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Immediate Access for help and advice
02038 115 619

Steroid Addiction Explained

Understanding Steroids

There are two types of steroids, corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Both can be used to treat various medical conditions, but anabolic steroids are frequently abused because they are believed to increase muscle mass and athletic performance. Most people who abuse anabolic steroids are men, but not all are athletes. Some use them purely to improve their physical appearance.

Steroids are similar to other drugs in that dependency can occur, but the reasons for this happening are a little different. People who abuse steroids do not do so because they experience a high. Often, steroid addiction develops when men are trying to cope with underlying psychological issues. These can range from low self-esteem to body dysmorphia.

Because steroid addiction works a little differently than alcoholism or other substance dependence, the approach to treatment is very individualised. One of the major side effects of withdrawing from steroids is depression, which can be so severe that it can lead to suicide.

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Treatment for steroid addiction should include supportive medications for withdrawal symptoms, as well as counselling and therapy to work through underlying psychological issues. Concurrent addictions can happen as well, which should also be considered when putting together a treatment plan.

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Steroids vs anabolic steroids

Corticosteroids are commonly referred to as steroids. These synthetic drugs are made to resemble cortisol, a hormone produced in the body by the adrenal glands. They are often prescribed when the body’s defences are not able to control inflammation or other conditions, for example, in treating rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. (1)

Anabolic steroids are a man-made variation of testosterone and may be prescribed to treat hormone deficiencies, muscle loss or cancer. Some bodybuilders, athletes, and other men abuse anabolic steroids to gain muscle, boost performance, or alter their physical appearance. Anabolic steroids can be taken by mouth, injected or applied topically. (2)

Steroids vs Ritalin (Methylphenidate)

Both steroids and Ritalin can be used by athletes to increase performance, but the drugs work in two very different ways.

Steroids act as physical enhancers, stimulating muscle growth and increasing stamina. This can give athletes more strength and endurance.

Ritalin, on the other hand, is commonly used to increase attention and focus and is being used more frequently, particularly by amateur athletes. One reason is that drug testing can detect steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, but most do not check for Ritalin and other brain enhancers.

For athletes, there is more of a stigma attached to steroid use, though Ritalin can be just as damaging and result in long-term negative effects. (3)

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic steroids act like testosterone in the body. They increase protein production to accelerate muscle growth. Secondary masculine sexual characteristics may develop or intensify as well. Those taking anabolic steroids may develop a deeper voice, have elevated libido or experience increased hair growth on the body and face.

There are legitimate medical reasons for taking anabolic steroids. They include testosterone insufficiency, recovery from significant injuries requiring an increase in protein production, aplastic anaemia or wasting syndrome related to HIV. Anabolic steroids are also used as a part of treatment plans for breast cancer or to stimulate growth in paediatric patients with short stature. (4)

The use of testosterone for performance enhancement can be traced back to the 1930s. Synthetic testosterone was developed to treat men with low natural testosterone to support normal growth and development. During World War II, it was used to improve performance in malnourished soldiers.

After the war, athletes used the drug to boost performance, notably during the 1956 Olympics. This led an American doctor named Dr Zeigler to create anabolic steroids. The drug rose in popularity throughout the 1970s with athletes at all levels. Then it was banned during the Olympics in 1975, but black-market sales continued to soar throughout the late 1970s and ’80s. Today, illegal anabolic steroid use is still prevalent. (5)

Different Forms of Steroids

  • Prednisolone
  • Beclometasone
  • Fluticasone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Tablets
  • Syrups and liquids
  • Inhalers and nasal sprays
  • Injections
  • Creams, lotions and gels

Active Chemical Components of Steroids

The active chemical component in steroids depends on the formulation of the drug, but they are all generally derivatives of testosterone and have the same effect on the body.
Testosterone is a necessary hormone. It’s involved in the development of male sex organs and is responsible for the deepening of the male voice, appearance of facial and body hair in puberty, bone growth, libido and production of sperm.

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Women need testosterone, too. It’s necessary for ovarian function and bone strength and may also play a part in mood regulation in both sexes.

Testosterone-derived steroids are abused mainly because testosterone also plays a major role in muscle size and strength. It can also increase oxygen uptake, which can lead to increased endurance and stamina.
Having too much testosterone naturally is not common, but it can lead to a variety of problems. When testosterone levels are normal and anabolic steroids are used, the body essentially begins to behave as if it has high levels of testosterone.

Anabolic steroids are available in a few different forms, including gels, pills and injections. While all of these are formulated a little differently, they have the same effects. (6)

Legal Status of Steroids

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, anabolic steroids are a class C drug in the UK, the same classification as benzodiazepines. A prescription is required for medical use, and there is no offence for possession for personal use. Manufacturing, supplying or intent to supply without a license are all illegal. Offenders may face a hefty fine, up to 14 years in prison or both.

Because of the legal status of anabolic steroids, black market manufacturing and sales have increased, with border officials and police seeing an increase in underground labs and illegal imports. Coordinating swaps and selling products has been made infinitely easier with the rise of social media.

An Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPED) survey estimated that there were about 900,000 anabolic steroid users across the UK, though there are some doctors in the UK who believe that figure is closer to 1 million. Interestingly, more than half of the people who responded to the IPED survey reported that they used anabolic steroids to develop body image, indicating that it is not just athletes who are using. (7)

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How Anabolic Steroids Affect the Brain

Studies have shown that long-term use of anabolic steroids has significant effects on the brain. One major study ran from the fall of 2013 to the summer of 2014 and used three different brain imaging techniques to examine the impact on brain structure and activity, as well as oxygenation and chemical changes.

One of the major findings was significant enlargement of the amygdala in steroid users versus non-users. The amygdala is the part of the brain that regulates emotions, including anxiety, aggression and depression.

This study also found that the levels of scyllo-Inositol decreased in the brains of anabolic steroid users. This important sugar plays a key part in preventing neurotoxic protein clumping. Lower levels mean that clumping is more likely, which can lead to the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

As for addiction, anabolic steroids do not affect the brain in the same way as other drugs or alcohol. Steroid dependency develops because of a fixation on body image, the decrease of the body’s ability to produce natural testosterone, which leads to decreased libido, and the pleasurable experience of growing self-confidence and strength. (8)

Types of Anabolic Steroids

Testosterone (Axiron, Androgel, Fortesta, Testopel, Striant, Delatestryl, Testim, Androderm)

Testosterone comes in various forms. Axiron, Androgel, Fortesta and Testim are topical gels that are directly absorbed into the skin. (9) (10) (11) (12)
Androderm is a patch that releases a slow, steady dose through the skin’s surface. (13)

Testopel consists of small pellets that are injected under the skin, where the crystals release a slow and steady dose of testosterone into the body. The effects last anywhere from three to six months. (14)

Striant is meant for buccal administration, meaning it’s absorbed through the gum or cheek. It’s in tablet form and dissolves quickly when placed in the mouth. (15)

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Delatestryl is for intramuscular injection. It’s long-acting and is typically only given every two weeks or less frequently. (16)

Stanozolol (Winstrol)

Stanozolol is a synthetic derivative of testosterone and is meant to be used for continuous treatment of hereditary angioedema, which is rapid swelling beneath the skin. These round pink tablets are taken orally and classified as a controlled substance. Side effects can be quite severe and include liver damage and an increased risk of atherosclerosis. (18)

Androstenedione

Androstenedione is not testosterone; rather, it increases the production of testosterone, which can increase energy, enhance muscle growth and athletic performance and shorten recovery time. There is some question as to whether or not it is effective, and dosing information has not been determined. (17)

Nandrolone (Deca-Durabolin)

Deca‑Durabolin is used to treat osteoporosis, particularly in post-menopausal women, and is only legal for those with a prescription. It’s administered through deep intramuscular injection and should be given every three weeks. Side effects can include nausea, fluid retention, changes in blood lipids and abnormal liver function. (19)

Methandrostenolone (Dianabol)

Dianabol is an oral steroid used to treat hypogonadism that is no longer used medically. This steroid works very quickly. It’s one of the most popular for enhancing physique and athletic performance, particularly among bodybuilders. While it’s a controlled substance in the UK, it’s readily available without a prescription in some countries. (20)

Effects of Steroids Use on the Body

Anabolic steroids can cause a lot of physical, mental, and emotional problems when abused. The route of administration can make a difference. For example, oral steroids are linked to liver disease, while injected steroids can increase the risk of infectious diseases when users share needles.

What is especially troubling is that some of the damage is potentially permanent. Experts also believe that some of the harmful effects of anabolic steroid use may not show up for years. Young people are particularly susceptible because their bodies are more sensitive to the effects of the drug. (21)

Some of the specific effects are:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired judgment
  • Delusions
  • Extreme irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Impotence
  • Low sperm count
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
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Risk Factors for Steroid Use

A lot of people assume that athletes or bodybuilders primarily abuse anabolic steroids, but that’s not the case. The truth is that most people who abuse steroids are male amateur weightlifters in their 20s and 30s. Women are less likely to use steroids because they do not typically have a desire for building extreme muscle mass or the possibly masculine side effects.

Men who are most likely to abuse steroids tend to have low self-esteem and poor understanding and attitudes about their health, and they participate more in sports that emphasise the importance of weight and strength.

Steroid use is also associated with muscle dysmorphia, a disorder where they see themselves as physically weak and small despite being large and muscular. Men who use steroids are more likely to have had parents who cared about their son’s weight and physical appearance and may have higher rates of depression and suicide attempts.

A connection also exists between steroid misuse and a history of physical or sexual abuse. In one study, males who used anabolic steroids reported sexual abuse at a significantly higher rate than those who did not. This connection applies to women, too. Female bodybuilders who experienced sexual assault were twice as likely to use. (22)

Steroids Addiction Potential and Mechanisms

Steroids are not addictive in the same way that opioids or stimulants are addictive, but they are addictive nonetheless.

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To qualify as having a substance disorder, the person must be driven to continue to use even though there are adverse effects. Steroid abuse can cause a lot of adverse effects, including cardiac and liver problems, acne, sexual dysfunction, mood swings and breast growth in men. Still, someone with a steroid addiction will continue to use the drug despite these things.

Steroid users often spend a lot of time and money obtaining the drug. Because a prescription is required for anabolic steroids in the UK, it’s not always easy to get. That said, there are countries where it is manufactured and readily available for purchase.

Stopping isn’t easy. While the physical symptoms are not the same as withdrawing from other drugs, steroid withdrawal can lead to serious bouts of depression as well as anxiety about losing muscle mass or a changing physique.

Research indicates that about 32% of steroid users develop dependence. One sign of this is an increased tolerance to the drug and the need to use higher doses to achieve the desired effect. (23)

Does Steroid Abuse Cause Any Permanent Damage?

Long-term effects of steroid abuse haven’t been thoroughly studied, but there is some evidence that shows possible permanent damage.

One study done on 62 powerlifters from Finland showed a 12.1% mortality rate 12 years after the study began. As a reference, the mortality rate for the control population was only 3.1%. Investigators concluded that this was likely due to steroid use. Other researchers have suggested that the premature deaths could have some relation to underlying psychiatric disease or additional substance abuse. (24)

Some cardiac problems associated with steroid abuse can resolve if the steroid use stops, but others, including atherosclerosis and cardiomyopathy, are difficult or impossible to reverse.

Although there are connections between steroid abuse and persisting psychological problems, it’s difficult to determine if steroid abuse is the cause or if the underlying psychology led to the person being prone to addictive behaviours. Either way, there is a possible correlation.

Some studies have linked steroid abuse to mania with periods of aggression and violence. Depression is also common, particularly during withdrawal. These effects do not occur with all users, and how long they persist is not clear. (25)

Sports, Performance and the Abuse of Steroids

Because not many studies have been performed on the effects of anabolic steroids, there is conflicting information about how much the drug helps athletic performance, particularly with long-term administration.

Short-term use of steroids can increase body weight and strength, which can, in turn, improve athletic performance. Overall strength gains of between 5% and 20% and 2 to 5 kg of weight have been reported. Lean body mass increases, but a reduction in fat does not seem to occur.

Anabolic steroids can also increase the concentration of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, though it’s inconclusive whether or not this affects endurance. (26) Theoretically, more oxygen should allow endurance athletes like cyclists and marathon runners to go farther and last longer.

Anecdotal evidence would disagree with these findings, which is probably why synthetic testosterone has been used to enhance performance since World War II. Russian bodybuilders were given testosterone during the 1954 Olympics, and use extended into the general population in the 1980s.

Anabolic steroids can also increase the concentration of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, though it’s inconclusive whether or not this affects endurance. (26) Theoretically, more oxygen should allow endurance athletes like cyclists and marathon runners to go farther and last longer.

Recent statistics from UK Anti-Doping indicate that of athletes banned due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, 62% of them are involved in amateur sports, whereas only 12% play professionally. (28) This may indicate that less skilled athletes are more prone to using anabolic steroids to get ahead, and it shows that talent and skill are still necessary for professional success.

Anecdotal evidence would disagree with these findings, which is probably why synthetic testosterone has been used to enhance performance since World War II. Russian bodybuilders were given testosterone during the 1954 Olympics, and use extended into the general population in the 1980s.

While steroid use in sports is certainly an issue, it’s important to realise that male non-athletes make up a large portion of anabolic steroid users. Its use is often tied to body dysmorphia, low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations of what males should look like due to the unrealistic physique of men in action movies and some professional sports. (27)

While athletes seeking to improve performance are certainly one subset of users, a lot of men who take anabolic steroids are not involved in sports; rather, they take them to improve their appearance.

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Why People Abuse Anabolic Steroids

People abuse steroids for various reasons. Self-esteem usually has a key part to play, since the main effect of steroids is to grow muscle mass and increase strength. This insecurity can come from a variety of different causes.

Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder where men see themselves as weak and small, no matter how strong and muscular they are. This form of body dysmorphia distorts the person’s perception of what they really look like. Someone with this condition may abuse steroids because of their need to build muscle. Exterior pressure can lead to steroid abuse, too. Men who are drawn to sports that emphasise strength, size and stamina may feel added pressure to perform.

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Also, men who grew up with pressure from their parents about their weight and physique may be drawn to steroids as an efficient way to improve their looks and feel better about themselves.

Finally, a history of physical or sexual abuse may lead a person to abuse anabolic steroids. This is true of both men and women. Both may feel powerless and see steroids as a way to gain strength quickly. In the event of rape or sexual abuse, women may also feel that by looking more masculine, they’ll be less attractive to their attacker. (22)

How People Misuse Anabolic Steroids

People with steroid addiction use a lot of different methods when taking them to try to increase or intensify the effects. These involve different ways of scheduling doses as well as mixing different types of steroids to get the most out of the drug.

Although these methods are common practice, there is no scientific evidence that any of them actually achieve the intended goal. Still, it’s important to know the different ways this addiction can manifest.

Here are four ways in which steroid dosing and administration are manipulated by users to achieve the desired effects:

Cycling

Cycling refers to the pattern that the person using steroids follows. They take multiple doses of steroids over a specific period, stopping and then starting again. Cycles can run any length but usually span anywhere from six to 12 weeks before starting over again.

Stacking

Stacking steroids simply means taking more than one steroid at a time in the belief that the effect of two compounds is better than one. It can involve taking two or more different kinds of steroid or using different routes, for example, an oral steroid combined with a gel or injectable.

Pyramiding

Pyramiding usually involves cycling steroids for six to 12 weeks, tapering down and back up again, rather than stopping abruptly as in cycling. The person starts with low doses, works up to high, then weans back down again. They may even stop completely for a few weeks before pyramiding again.

Plateauing

Finally, plateauing is a method designed to prevent building a tolerance to the drug. Different types of steroids are staggered, substituted and overlapped so that the person isn’t taking too much of one type of steroid for too long. The thought is that by stacking and spacing out doses, the drugs won’t lose their effectiveness. (29)

Signs and Symptoms of Anabolic Steroid Abuse

Physical effects in men

Men who abuse steroids will likely exhibit faster-than-normal muscle growth. They may have oily hair, acne, hair loss, jaundice, bloating and gynaecomastia, which is the development of excessive breast tissue in men. They may also exhibit extreme shifts in appetite, odd sleep patterns or lethargy and rapid weight gain.

There are some social cues that can indicate a problem, too, including changes in relationships and social interactions, private phone conversations, the inability to concentrate on conversations, forgetting plans and scheduled activities and sudden urges to work out. Private phone conversations may increase, and they may behave more secretively.

Suddenly taking an extra-long shower or bath, going to the bedroom or bathroom more frequently and locking the door behind them, asking to borrow money or having more money than usual, receiving strange packages in the mail or exhibiting extreme paranoia can also indicate that something is awry. (30)

Physical effects in women

Women experience a lot of the same physical effects as men, including rapid muscle growth and weight gain, oily hair and skin, acne, jaundice, bloating and hair loss. (30) Some effects that apply specifically to women.

Biologically, women do produce a small bit of testosterone. Normally, these levels are quite low, but since anabolic steroids increase the effects of testosterone on the body, they can cause a lot of drastic changes.

Some of these include the growth of excessive facial and body hair, loss of breasts, increased sex drive and problems with periods. Hair thinning or baldness can occur, and the voice typically deepens and begins to sound more masculine. (31)
Long-term use of steroids by women can have serious physical effects. Infertility is possible, and using during pregnancy can cause a female foetus to have unbalanced sex hormones and even ambiguous genitalia. (32)

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Physical effects in young people

Some of the effects in young people include oily skin and hair, acne, bloating and rapid weight gain and muscle growth. Teens can also suffer from stunted growth if the steroids are used before puberty. Boys have an increased risk for prostate cancer as well as low sperm count and infertility, while girls can experience changes in or even the end of their menstrual cycle. Like adult males, young men can experience breast growth, shrinking testes and baldness, while girls experience the same changes as women do, including a deepening voice, loss of breasts and baldness. While these effects are hard for anyone to cope with, they’re especially hard to handle during the teenage years.

Many teenagers struggle to fit in as it is. Obvious physical changes like a boy developing breasts or a girl losing her hair can be psychologically devastating to teenagers who are already unsure of themselves. (33)

Common psychological effects

As mentioned before, excessive steroid use has been shown to enlarge the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions. Because of this, it’s no surprise that there can be significant psychological effects of steroid use.

Everyone has heard of “roid rage”, the stereotypical idea of someone on steroids losing their temper and becoming extremely angry, aggressive and at times violent. Though there isn’t any indisputable scientific evidence to support this idea, there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people who have experienced it, either because they went through it themselves or witnessed it in someone else.

Depression is another major side effect that occurs not when someone is using steroids, but when they stop taking them. Some people believe that this, in part, contributes to steroid addiction and is part of the reason why drug rehabilitation for steroid abuse is necessary. (34)

Long-term health effects of steroid abuse

There have not been a lot of studies about the long-term health effects of steroid use, but those that have been done suggest that there are many areas where permanent or semi-permanent damage might occur.

One of the most sobering findings is from the previously mentioned study in Finland in which the mortality rate of steroid users after 12 years was 12.1% compared to 3.1% of non-users. Whether this is a direct result of steroid abuse or related to an underlying psychiatric disease that predisposed them to addiction is unclear. (24)

While this study indicated that anabolic steroids could lead to premature death, the actual cause of death was never noted. Because steroid abuse can cause problems in multiple body systems, any number of things could be at fault.

Behavioural changes

Small studies and some case reports have shown that steroid abuse can lead to irritability and aggression, though people who are likely to abuse steroids may already have these personality traits.
Steroid users are also more likely to deal with anxiety, and high doses of steroids can be associated with major depression or mania. (35)

Diabetes

Researchers in Denmark performed a study showing that anabolic steroid use can lead to insulin resistance, which is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes. While no direct link between steroid use and diabetes was determined, a history of steroid use raises the risk of insulin sensitivity, even after significant time has passed. (36)

Erectile dysfunction

Long-term effects of anabolic steroids on erectile dysfunction (ED) are not well studied. Data indicates that ED more commonly occurs when men use high doses for a long time and then stop using. It’s likely that the steroid use has a negative impact on the body’s ability to produce a sufficient amount of testosterone naturally. (37)

Heart and liver damage

Steroids can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and blood vessel disease. Cardiomyopathy is also a risk. Liver damage is likely to occur, including cancer or cysts that can rupture and cause death. (21)

How Do Steroids Interact with Other Drugs?

There are several drugs that testosterone, and by extension, anabolic steroids should not be taken with. In most cases, the steroids and the drug can have a compounding effect on different parts of the body, which can lead to significant complications.

When steroids are taken with certain anticoagulants, there can be an increased risk of bleeding. Testosterone is known to interfere with anisindione, dicumarol and warfarin.

Carfilzomib, an anti-cancer drug, can also have significant interactions with steroids. Both substances increase the risk of blood clots, so using the two together elevates the risk. Blood clots can lead to medical emergencies like heart attack, pulmonary embolism and stroke.

Leflunomide is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and can be hard on the liver. When combined with steroids, the liver can be placed under even more stress, increasing the risk of significant damage. The same is true when steroids are used with lomitapide or mipomersen, each used to lower cholesterol.

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Teriflunomide is used to treat multiple sclerosis and, when taken with testosterone, also has the potential to damage the liver. Teriflunomide stays in the system for a long time, so problems can occur even when the drug is no longer being taken. (38)

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Treatment for Anabolic Steroid Addiction and Performance-Enhancing Drug Addiction

When considering drug rehabilitation for steroid abuse, it’s very important to keep the underlying reasons for the substance abuse in mind. Steroid addiction doesn’t work the same way as other chemical addictions, so it must be approached a little differently.

There are three things that must be addressed to help someone though steroid addiction. First, there may be underlying issues such as muscle dysmorphia. Second, depression and low production of natural testosterone can occur when someone stops taking steroids. Finally, people addicted to steroids often get pleasure out of taking them and seeing the results. Resolving these three things should be part of any treatment plan. (39)

Most people who use steroids do not seek treatment. Studies show that 56% of users do not even let their doctor know that they’re using. It’s important for health care providers to be able to spot the signs of steroid addiction to encourage those who need it to get help.

Solid treatment plans should include psychological therapy and possibly medication to work through muscle dysmorphia or the effects of previous abuse that may be affecting the person’s self-esteem. Endocrine therapies may also be needed to treat low testosterone levels as well as antidepressants to cope with depression. (40)

Anabolic Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms for anabolic steroids are different from those of other drugs, with the exception of cravings, which are common across the board. The most common withdrawal symptoms are restlessness, loss of appetite, sleep problems and low libido. While these symptoms may not seem as severe as those for other drugs, steroid withdrawal is unfortunately still very complicated.

It’s important to keep in mind that individuals with an anabolic steroid addiction may have other addictions, too. Often, those who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from steroids will turn to other drugs to alleviate sleep problems, restlessness or irritability. (2) By the time someone comes to terms with their steroid addiction, they may also be addicted to sleeping pills to help them rest or amphetamines to give them energy after the loss of sleep.

The risk of severe depression when withdrawing from steroids is an important thing to consider as well. There are significant links between depression and alcoholism. In fact, nearly a third of people with major depression also have problems with alcohol. (41)

Withdrawing from steroids is complicated because it can lead to concurrent addictions. Successful treatment plans for clients with this problem should address these addictions as well.

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How long does it take to withdraw from steroids?

There is no timeline for steroid withdrawal as it affects everyone differently, and individuals require different types of treatments.

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Depression is one of the major side effects of withdrawing from steroids. In some people, it can be so bad that it results in suicide attempts. (2) Working through depression can take a long time, and treatment plans should be put together on a case-by-case basis.

If needed, comprehensive treatment for depression and addiction is the best course of action. Antidepressants can help reduce symptoms of depression, but counselling and behavioural support are often necessary as well. This can require intensive individual therapy and group counselling and can typically be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. (42)

Inpatient Rehab vs Outpatient Treatment Options for Steroids Addiction

Whether inpatient or outpatient rehab is best depends on the severity of the addiction and the underlying causes of it, as well as any concurrent addictions that need to be addressed.

Inpatient rehab programmes usually last at least 28 days but can be longer if necessary. The benefit of inpatient is that clients are completely immersed in their recovery and can better focus on getting well and learning about their addiction.

A huge benefit of inpatient rehab is that the person is removed from the stressors of everyday life, including people, places and other triggers that make them want to use. There are also a lot of opportunities to work on the underlying issues that may have led to steroid addiction in the first place. Inpatient programmes provide a lot of emotional support that may be needed to cope with the depression that often comes with steroid withdrawal.

Inpatient rehab is ideal for people working through a steroid addiction, whether it occurs with another addiction or not. It’s also a better choice for anyone who has tried an outpatient program and found that it didn’t have enough structure for them to be successful.

Outpatient rehab gives clients more freedom. It provides a lot of the same support but in a much different environment. Clients can still go to work, interact with supportive friends and family or attend school. This has the bonus of also allowing them to have anonymity because they don’t have to explain a long absence.

Individuals participating in outpatient rehab are not isolated from the things that could trigger a relapse. This requires a lot more diligence and strength on the part of the client, but it’s important to remember that support networks of friends, family, counsellors and groups are never far away. (43)

The Role of Counselling in Steroids Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Generally, counselling is an essential part of addiction therapy. Treatment should always focus on the person as a whole and not just on their drug abuse.

Behavioural therapies are commonly used to treat drug abuse, including individual and group counselling. Family counselling can also be hugely beneficial. The focus is on the individual’s willingness to change, building the skills needed to avoid relapse, replacing old habits with constructive activities and working on improving relationships. (44)

Because the underlying causes of most steroid addictions are psychological, counselling is usually very important to recovery. For a client who has body dysmorphia or a history of abuse or was raised in a home where body image was important, counselling is likely the best approach. It also helps the client grow their self-esteem and become more confident in who they are as a person, which goes a long way to staying clean.

Group counselling is also important for long-term success in most cases. It provides a tight-knit support group of people who really understand what the addicted person is facing. Group counselling can be continued long after intensive inpatient or outpatient programmes are completed.

What’s the Best Way to Approach a Loved One Who Is Addicted to Steroids?

There are ways to approach a loved one with concerns about addiction that can show them that you care while being clear that you are not going to enable their habit.

First, it’s always important to be kind. Be compassionate and let the person know someone loves them and is not going to criticise, judge or insult them. Try to see it from their perspective as best you can, even if you don’t agree with their behaviour.

Be consistent. Don’t tell them you think they have a problem with steroids and then compliment them on their physique or go to the gym with them. It’s important that they know what you expect.

Always let them know they are loved, no matter what. Let them know that you will be there for them if they want to get help but that you are not willing to put up with certain things. Give them clear limits and follow through.

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Support them if they’re ready for change by helping them find a rehab program that fits their needs. To get started, pick up the phone and give us a call. (45)

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