I recently read somewhere that more than 30 percent of steroid users are likely to become addicted to their use of steroids. As a bodybuilder and steroid user, this statistic got me thinking. Can you get addicted to steroids?, this was the question I kept asking myself, as I thought about my personal steroid use and the possibility that I could become addicted.
Addiction refers to a condition where a person using chemical substances becomes physically, psychologically and mentally dependent on their choice of drugs. Steroids are synthetic hormones that provide a chemical reaction in the body (just like any other drug) when they are consumed either intramuscularly or orally. So similar to other drugs including prescription and recreational drugs (like heroin and cocaine), people can also be addicted to their steroid use.
The introduction of chemical substances into your body, as is the case with steroids, can make you crave for more of the drug and this ultimately leads to steroid dependency and addiction. While from experience, steroids do not give a “high” like cocaine and heroin, but they do in fact give you a ‘feel good factor’. This is where you experience a strong sense of wellbeing after using steroids. Personally, whenever I run a steroid cycle, I feel more motivated to get up early in the morning and hit the gym. While at the gym, I also feel energised and ready for an intense workout without any fear of injury or burnout.
On second thought, I soon realised that my reason for not fearing burnout or muscle injury is because I knew that I had taken steroids like Dbol to help me quickly recover from muscle strain and injuries. While this in itself is not an addiction, it can be a genuine reason for addiction to steroid use.
So can you get addicted to steroids?, in my personal opinion, I believe you can!
I. How Do You Get Addicted to Steroids?
Addiction to steroids can occur while you are actively engaged in steroid use for performance enhancement purposes. As a bodybuilder, I know that you can use steroids as a standalone in either a cycle or pyramid and as a stack (in combination with other steroids). With a steroid cycle, you normally take doses of a steroid or stack of steroids for a definite length of time which is typically between 6 to 12 weeks. After this cycle a bodybuilder or any steroid user should undergo Post-Cycle therapy or PCT.
PCT is a process of recovery from the use of steroids including coping with withdrawal symptoms and the regulation of hormonal levels by ensuring the resumption of the natural production of suppressed testosterone hormone with PCT drugs like nolvadex and clomid. However, with addiction, rather than a person undergoing PCT after a steroid cycle, such an individual continues using steroids beyond a ‘safe’ cycle (between 6 and 12 weeks).
When you stop using steroids after a cycle, you normally experience withdrawal symptoms after a period of time (usually within a week) as the synthetic hormones tend to remain in the bloodstream for a length of time even after the end of a cycle. Some withdrawal symptoms you could experience include; headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and nausea.
Withdrawal symptoms become more intense with addiction. There are many reasons why a bodybuilder would keep taking steroids beyond a recommended cycle, three of these reasons include;
- An obsession with maintaining bodybuilding gains (lean muscles, weight loss, strength, stamina, endurance and speedy recovery),
- the aggression that steroids give, which enables a bodybuilder to attack a workout session with intensity, and
- an addiction to needles and using injections,
II. Treatment for Steroid Addiction
Treatment for anabolic steroid addiction like addiction to any other substance including alcohol and recreational drugs, such as; meth, cocaine and heroin, normally begin with some form of rehabilitation.
In rehab, a steroid addict will be placed on a comprehensive treatment plan, one that is tailor-made by a mental health professional and substance addiction specialist. The treatment would entail a detox plan that will help to cater for the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the steroid addict and also help them recover quickly from their addiction.
III. In Conclusion
Can you get addicted to steroids? the simple answer is Yes! Addiction to steroids can be very dangerous to your health, as steroids with a high hepatotoxicity can cause serious damage to your liver.
Continuous use of steroids beyond a cycle is also dangerous as their their are many health risks that you could be prone and this includes tumors and cancer. Steroid addicts also be less cautious when they use injections and vials. Vial and injection sharing is not uncommon and this can be a source of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS infection.
As parting shot, you should know that if you have successfully completed a steroid cycle (i.e. between 6 to 12 weeks of steroid use) and also spent about 4 weeks of Post-Cycle therapy (PCT) to normalise your natural hormone levels, you can then start off a fresh steroid cycle and repeat the process (steroid use followed by PCT) once more.