Understanding Steroid Addiction: Why Gym-Goers Are At-Risk

Anabolic steroid abuse isn’t just a problem among athletes going for the gold. An increasing number of male gym-goers are using these performance-enhancing drugs to improve muscle growth, build strength, and feel younger.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Unfortunately, while steroids make big promises, they also come with big health risks, including the risk of developing a serious addiction.
In this guide to understanding steroid abuse, we’ll discuss what makes this type of addiction so dangerous, why male gym-goers are most at risk, and how to take the first steps to recovery.
Anabolic steroid abuse isn’t just a problem among athletes going for the gold. An increasing number of male gym-goers are using these performance-enhancing drugs to improve muscle growth, build strength, and feel younger.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Unfortunately, while steroids make big promises, they also come with big health risks, including the risk of developing a serious addiction.
In this guide to understanding steroid abuse, we’ll discuss what makes this type of addiction so dangerous, why male gym-goers are most at risk, and how to take the first steps to recovery.
What Do Anabolic Steroids Do?
To understand steroid addiction, you first have to understand how the drug works.
Anabolic steroids are a man-made drug that mimics the male sex hormone, testosterone. They promote muscle growth by stimulating the creation of proteins in the body and can be taken orally or by injection. While the muscle building properties of anabolic steroids are real, so are the risks – and the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Doctors typically prescribe steroids to patients suffering from disease-related muscle loss and hormone problems – not healthy men who are just looking for an easy way to bulk up. Despite this, more than 1% of the US adult population has reported illegal steroid use. Why does this number keep going up?
Why Do Men Start Taking Steroids?
Athletes take steroids because they’re driven by a desire to win. So what drives male gym-goers to start taking them?
For most, it stems from a negative body image. Similar to how an obsession with being thin can lead to dangerous eating disorders like anorexia in women, obsessing over muscle mass can create a powerful dependency on physique-bulking steroids in men.
At the gym, seeing men who are more muscular can heighten these feelings of anxiety, and taking steroids might seem like an easy solution. But steroids are only a short-term fix that can potentially cause a long list of problems.
The Dangers of Steroid Abuse
Many men who use steroids regularly don’t see it as a problem – in fact, many people believe that it’s perfectly healthy. Besides, if they look good and feel good, how could anything be wrong?
For starters, using these drugs without a prescription is illegal – and for good reason. Gym-goers frequently take much higher doses than what a doctor would prescribe for medical purposes. Large doses and long-term misuse of steroids can have the following physiological effects in men:
  • Kidney Damage
  • Increased Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Testicle Atrophy (Shrinking)
  • Hair Loss
  • Infertility
Signs of Addiction
People who regularly use anabolic steroids tend to think that they have things under control – that there’s no way they could become addicted. After all, steroids don’t produce the type of “high” that other addictive substances do.
But the risk of addiction is real. Users who suddenly stop taking steroids often experience symptoms of withdrawal, which can include:
  • Aggressive Behavior (“Roid Rage”)
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Severe Depression
  • Thoughts of Suicide
Another sign of addiction is an increased tolerance for the drug – you need to take increasingly larger doses to get the desired effect. While anabolic steroid dependence may not be as severe as an addiction to heroin or cocaine, it’s still a serious problem that demands attention.
Recovering From Addiction
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person taking the drug – it affects everyone around them. Anabolic steroid abuse can cause users to lash out at family and friends, ignore work responsibilities, and waste large amounts of money and time trying to fuel their addiction.
With any addiction, the first step to recovery is accepting that there’s a problem. The next step is getting help. Therapy, recovery programs, and local support groups are all effective treatment options.
At the end of the day, using steroids to “bulk up” just isn’t worth it. No matter how iron-willed you think you may be, no one is immune to the harmful effects of substance abuse.