Steroid Addiction and Dependence Explained

Steroid addiction can have serious, lifelong consequences even if used lightly.  Intended to be a life enhancing substance to be taken for certain medical issues, anabolic steroids can forever change your mental state and health when abused.   Steroids used to be confined to body builders and athletes. However, the easy availability of steroids and a belief that they can build up a body have made them attractive to all age groups including school age children.

An addiction to anabolic steroids is much different than the typical addiction heard about for other drugs like heroin which can include withdrawal symptoms and intense drug cravings. That’s because the motivation for using steroids is not getting high or feeling a rush. It’s about getting big. The substance is believed to help build strength for those involved in physical occupations and to reduce recovery time from workouts.

Four of the most abused steroids, according to the US Department of Justice, are Winstrol, Durabolin, Deca-Durabolin and Equipoise. These prescription drugs are usually used to treat a body producing abnormally low testosterone levels and patients losing muscle mass from a disease like AIDS or breast cancer.

Used as prescribed, the drug appears to work well in most cases. However, steroid abuse or addiction can cause often irreversible physical and psychological changes.

Effects of Steroid Addiction

As with other drugs, the body gets dependent on steroids with regular use. However, the same type of highs and lows received from other drugs normally abused are not present. What users experience on steroids include:

  • A strong sense of feeling good about themselves
  • Wild mood swings which could include manic symptoms that lead to violence
  • A feeling of depression when steroids are stopped
  • Irrational jealousy
  • Aggressiveness
  • Faulty judgments because of feelings of invincibility

Men who obsess over body-building and who use steroids to increase muscle mass may suffer from megarexia. This is associated with a low self-esteem and feeling small or weak. Extended steroid use leading to frequent workouts with weights for long hours in the gym are common. Relationships, careers and other life options get neglected because the user wants to exercise more.


Anabolic steroids are taken orally or injected. They are abused in cycles (called cycling). This means multiple doses of the substance are taken over a period of time after which there is a period when they are not taken. Soon after, though, the cycle begins again.

To safely get off of steroids, it’s best to use an endocrinologist to manage the process. Because regular steroid use impacts the normal function of the adrenal and other glands, steroid withdrawal must be tapered and closely monitored.

Breaking an addiction to anabolic steroids requires the intervention of medical and psychological help to be successful.  Consult with the addiction professionals at Recovery First. Our experienced and compassionate counselors will work with you to develop a drug treatment program that safely gets you off of steroids.  Start taking back your life by picking up the phone now, or check your insurance for drug rehab using the form to the right of this page.