steroids are drugs such as
testosterone or substances that work like
testosterone. Doctors prescribe them to treat problems such as delayed
puberty and other medical problems that cause the body
to make very low amounts of testosterone. Steroids make muscles bigger and
bones stronger. They also may cause puberty to start and can help some boys
who have a
genetic disorder to grow more normally.
Common anabolic steroid medicines include fluoxymesterone (such as Halotestin)
and nandrolone (such as Durabolin). In the United States, you need a
prescription to get any anabolic steroid. Illegal anabolic steroids are those
that people get without a doctor’s prescription.
Some people take
legal dietary supplements that have certain steroid hormones also made by the
human body. One such drug is dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The body can turn
DHEA into other steroid hormones, including testosterone,
cortisol. People use it to try to make their muscles
bigger. Whether such products actually work has not been proved. But if you
take them in large amounts, they can cause the same side effects as anabolic
Some adults and teens use illegal anabolic
steroids to lower body fat, get bigger muscles, and increase strength. They use
the drugs because they are seeking to improve how well they play sports or how
The dose of illegal anabolic steroids is 10 to 100
times higher than the dose a doctor prescribes for medical problems. People
often use more than one of these illegal drugs at the same time. This is called
stacking. Or they may take the drugs in a cycle from no drug to a high dose
over a period of weeks to months. This is called pyramiding.
Anabolic steroids may be taken as a pill, as a shot into a muscle, or as
a gel or cream rubbed on the skin.
Anabolic steroids can
cause serious side effects. Some of these effects can be permanent.
People who abuse anabolic steroids can have
withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.
Symptoms include having mood swings, being extremely tired, having no desire to
eat, and craving steroids.
A doctor can often spot a person
who is abusing anabolic steroids when that person walks through the door. This
is because the medicine makes muscles unusually large. Your doctor may also ask
questions about your fitness activities and what kinds of dietary supplements
and other substances you use. The doctor may do a physical exam and order urine
and blood tests.
Treatment for abuse of
anabolic steroids has not been studied much. Doctors
The Hormone Health Network is a nonprofit organization
started by the Endocrine Society. The organization promotes the prevention,
treatment, and cure of hormone-related conditions through public outreach and
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
This website provides links to information on anabolic
steroid abuse. Information includes health consequences of using steroids and
ideas for athletic training without steroids.
This organization provides information for teens about
anabolic steroids. It includes facts, stories about people who have taken
steroids, a glossary, and places to get help.
Other Works ConsultedHagen TJ (2007). Performance-enhancing substances and nutritional supplements section of Medical aspects of sports medicine. In PJ McMahon, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Sports Medicine, pp. 25–27. New York: McGraw-Hill.National Institute on Drug Abuse (2006). Research Report Series—Anabolic Steroid Abuse. Available online: http://www.nida.nih.gov/PDF/RRSteroids.pdf.Pope HG, Brower KJ (2008). Treatment of anabolic-androgenic steroid-related disorders. In M Galanter, HD Kleber, eds., American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th ed., pp. 237–245. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.Pope HG, Brower KJ (2009). Anabolic–androgenic steroid-related disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1419–1431. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
June 30, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
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