Abuse of anabolic steroids differs from the abuse of other illicit substances because the initial abuse of anabolic steroids is not driven by the immediate pleasure seeking or euphoria that accompanies drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Steroid abusers use the drug in order to change their physical appearance and / or athletic performance, which can be important for adolescents and teens. The effects of steroids can boost confidence and strength, leading abusers to overlook the potential serious and long-term damage that these substances can cause.
The anabolic steroid most commonly used to build muscle quickly is testosterone. Steroids may be injected, taken orally or rubbed onto the skin as a cream or a gel. There are several warning signs which indicate that a person has become addicted to steroids, including a preoccupation with getting the next dose, continued use in spite of the negative consequences, abnormal speed of muscle growth, and withdrawal symptoms when the person discontinues the use of steroids. Steroid use can cause early heart attacks, strokes, liver tumors and kidney failure. Steroid abuse can also cause serious psychiatric problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, and intense anger (“roid rage”) and aggression.
Steroid abuse also has other side effects. Steroid addicts may experience pain and have difficulty sleeping as a result of their steroid use. As a result, steroid users may self medicate to relieve these side effects and take opiates as a pain reliever and sleep aid. Furthermore, because steroids are often injected, users who share needles or use non-sterile techniques when they inject steroids are at risk for contracting dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.