• What Are Steroids?
• How/why do people abuse steroids?
• Change of Behavior
• Physical Health
• Financial Risks
• Legal consequences
• Social risks/consequences
• Ending the Effects
Because of the physical effects on the body, steroids are wildly known, but their mental health impact can be just as significant as we see physically. Steroid use can have multiple side effects on the mind, in addition to its physical products. These side effects can have a profound and negative impact upon family, work, relationships etc. It can often even put family members at risk for physical harm.
However, family relationships are never damaged beyond repair. Help is available for steroid users and their loved ones. Getting this help begins with understanding correctly these drugs and how they shape personal, mental and family health.
What Are Steroids?
Steroids are synthesised forms of the male sex hormone testosterone. They are of two types :
Catabolic or Glucocorticoids are part of the body's response to stress; these steroids help break down large chemicals into smaller chemicals in e body; for example, cortisol helps glycogen (a large molecule that is stored in the liver) metabolise into glucose. This small molecule can be used for energy by the body.
And Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids, which were initially designed for patients in need of growth hormone treatment. Now they are frequently obtained illegally and used for their primary physical effects. Steroids are taken to build muscle mass and to enhance athletic ability. This alone doesn't seem like it would impact mental health or family stability, but like any drug, desired effects come with unwanted side effects, especially when taken over time.
Anabolic steroids are addictive, and users may have to go through most times, painful withdrawal over time.
How/Why do people abuse steroids
People abuse steroids for various reasons but mostly to enhance their body structures or just peer pressures. Also, there is a perception that other athletes are using steroids and gaining an unfair advantage.
Cycling, stacking, and pyramiding are commonly used for anabolic steroid abusers to take their drugs. Most anabolic steroids need to be injected into the body to be effective, some may be taken by mouth, and others used as a cream or gel and applied on the skin.
How Do Steroids Change Mental Health and Behavior?
Steroids are used to change a person's body features; But they also change how a person feels, thinks, talks and acts. They can contribute to depression, aggression and physical health problems. These and more impact a person's mental and physical health, and they change a lot in families interaction.
People who use steroids to enhance their appearance by increasing muscle and decreasing fat may suffer from muscle dysmorphia or abnormal perception of their own body. Males may think that they are perpetually too small and weak, while females may think of themselves as fat, even though that perception most times may not be correct.
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Steroid Abuse, Depression and Family Health
Regular steroid use can contribute to depression. Steroid withdrawal can worsen depression symptoms and contribute to suicidal thoughts or even actions. Psychology Today reports states that: “The behaviours and mood of a depressed person affect the whole family. There's the irritability, which sets off conflicts, derails family dynamics and relationships—the negative thought patterns, which become a prism of pessimism for everyone.
The withdrawal disrupts relationships and breeds wholesale feelings of rejection. There are significant responsibilities that get displaced. There is a general burden of stress.No matter the cause of depression. It can leave families unhappy, hurt and struggling. When steroids are the cause of that depression, addiction treatment, and therapy can heal everyone.
Steroids, Aggression and Family Health
Steroid-induced aggression is probably one of the most well-known side effects of steroid use that we see every day. Everyone has heard of “roid rage.” Reuters published a study that found, “Men who used anabolic steroids either in the past year or at any time in their lives were about twice as likely to have committed at least one violent act in the past year than men who never used them.”
Steroid use leads to increased aggression in interpersonal relationships. And attack puts individuals, friends and family members at risk. Violence at home disrupts the health, happiness and safety of everyone involved.
Most times, because these people think of themselves as big or small and weak, they then intimidate or unnecessarily defend themselves over often baseless issues.
Steroid Abuse and Physical Health
Steroids may improve muscle mass or athletic performance, but they cause as many adverse physical health effects as desired ones. In males, steroid abuse can diminish sex drive. A common side effect of steroid abuse in males is erectile dysfunction. This makes it challenging to have a normal, healthy sexual relationship. Excess steroid suppresses the average testosterone production in the body and can lead to shrunken testicles and decreased sperm count, baldness, and breast development issues(gynecomastia).
In females, anabolic steroid abuse can lead to unusual masculinisation with loss of body fat and breast size, swelling of the clitoris (which may be permanent if not resolved, even the woman in question has stopped using steroids), deepening of the voice, and unusual development of facial and body hairs.
Additionally, steroids can cause liver damage, heart damage, stroke, liver cancer, liver failure, and other health concerns. These leave families stressed, worried and at risk of losing a loved one — the most significant harm any drug can do to a family.
Psychiatric and psychological steroids complications include manic behaviour and psychosis, including hallucinations and sometimes delusions. Aggressive behaviour is often and known as “roid rage.”
Because muscle growth commonly occurs quickly, it can cause stress on the tendons that attach the muscle to bone, and those who abuse anabolic steroids are at risk for tendon rupture. All these complications significantly affect the families of the patients negatively.
Financial Risks of Steroid Addiction
The effects of steroid abuse can carry over into a person's finances. This impacts the family as a whole. Aggression, depression, and other behaviour changes can affect someone's professional life and career. The psychological and behavioural side effects of steroid abuse may cost a person their job. Medical bills or legal bills may start to add/pill up.
The drugs themselves are expensive, and individuals may find they prioritise steroids over groceries, utilities, rent or more superficial, healthier pleasures in life. Family members may have to work longer hours, worry more and go without providing essentials because of a loved one's steroid abuse.
And in the case of a resultant fatal illness, e.g. liver failure, steroids abuse can lead to brokenness and leave the family members trying to raise funds for treatments and other special needs that usually arise.
The legal consequences of illegal possession and steroids vary from countries to states. But in the USA, Simple possession of illicitly obtained anabolic steroids carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000 if this is an individual's first drug offence. The maximum penalty for trafficking is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is the individual's first felony drug offence.
Generally, the finding suggests that whether or not a user of these substances suffers from these “neurotic” or adverse effects, the broader perception in the community is that they do. Considering this, the use of anabolic steroids harms the perception of users' personality and social image.
Some campaigns against anabolic steroids use fear campaigns, highlighting the negative consequences on physical and mental health to encourage people to avoid these drugs. But these have been criticised for failing to reflect most “healthy” or “healthy-looking” users' experiences.
Prevention of steroids Abuse
Because steroids Abuse mostly starts or occurs at a young age, counselling and guidance that continues through high school and beyond most effectively decreases steroid use in the younger population.
Studies have also shown that when you don't put pressures on athletes to perform more, they tend to stay away from steroid abuse and intellectually improve their talents.
Treatment Of steroids Abuse
Counselling is an effective therapy for anabolic steroid abuse. The patients and their support groups, families, and friends need to appreciate that this addiction's approach may be similar to general addiction to other drugs and alcohol.
Depression and suicidal thoughts may occur when one stops taking steroids, and this potential must be taken seriously and intentionally monitored closely.
Withdrawal symptoms from steroids abuse might vary with each patient. Consequently, the health care professional may need to prescribe short courses of medications to help each patient with headaches, muscle aches, and insomnia.
Ending the Effects of Steroid Abuse on Families
If you or a family member is using steroids, there is help. Consider speaking with a treatment program, a specialist, and an interventionist to protect your family's health and well-being. Interventions can be an effective way to encourage a loved one to enter addiction treatment and end steroid use. An intervention involves the user, family, close friends and a professional interventionist.
They aren't the dramatic events you see on TV. Interventions are a chance for loved ones to share how steroid abuse has affected each on a personal level in works, behaviors etc. and within the family. They help a person who uses steroids find the motivation and support to enter treatment as soon as possible. This treatment offers the individual and family support needed for a safe, healthy and drug-free home life.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. He is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.