Generic and trade names: oxymotholone (Anadrol), methan¬drostenolone (Dianobol), stanozolol (Winstrol), nandrolone decanoate (Deca-Durabolin), testosterone cypionate (Depo-Testosterone), boldenone undecylenate (Equipoise) and others Street names: the juice, the white stuff, roids
Many kinds of steroids occur naturally in various hormones and vitamins. Drugs known as “anabolic steroids” are made in laboratories and have the same chemical structure as the steroids found in the male sex hormone testosterone. The muscle-building (anabolic) and masculinizing (androgenic) effects of these drugs make them appealing to athletes and bodybuilders.
The primary use of anabolic steroids is to promote growth in farm animals. In humans they are sometimes prescribed to treat delayed puberty, some types of impotence and wasting of the body caused by AIDS and other diseases.
Steroidal “supplements,” such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), are converted into testosterone or a similar compound in the body. Although little research has been done on steroidal supplements, if taken in large quantities, they likely produce the same effects and the same side-effects as anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids manufactured by pharmaceutical companies are available legally only by prescription. Most steroids used by athletes are smuggled, stolen or made in illegal labs. Veterinary drugs are often used.
Anabolic steroids come in the form of tablets, capsules, a solution for injection and a cream or gel to rub into the skin. Weightlifters and bodybuilders who use steroids often take doses that are up to 100 times greater than those used to treat medical conditions.
Regimented methods of taking steroids are believed to enhance the effects of these drugs and lessen harm to the body. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. Such methods include the following:
Most anabolic steroid use is non-medical. The main users are athletes—to improve their performance—and bodybuilders and young men—to develop a more muscular appearance. Steroid use has also been found among people who have experienced abuse or assault who wish to build muscles in order to protect themselves better.
Steroid use is banned by the International Olympic Committee and many other amateur and professional sports organizations. But because drug testing is costly, tests of professional athletes are generally “random,” and are often preceded by a warning. Regular mandatory testing is standard only at the international level of competition.
A 2011 survey of Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 reported that 1.2 per cent had used anabolic steroids at least once. A 2004 survey of Canadians (aged 15+) reported that 0.6 per cent had used anabolic steroids at least once.
Steroids can produce a variety of psychological effects ranging from euphoria to hostility. Some people who take steroids say the drugs make them feel powerful and energetic. However, steroids are also known to increase irritability, anxiety and aggression and cause mood swings, manic symptoms and paranoia, particularly when taken in high doses.
High doses, especially when taken orally, cause nausea, vomiting and gastric irritation. Other effects include fluid retention and trembling.
Yes, they can be. Addiction to steroids differs from many other drugs in that tolerance to the effects does not develop. However, some people who abuse steroids meet criteria for drug dependence in that they:
Yes. Taking high doses of steroids increases risk of:
Some of the effects of steroids disappear when drug use is stopped, but others are permanent. The effects of long-term use include:
Copyright (c) 2003, 2012 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Every donation moves us closer to a future where no one is left behind.
Keep your finger on our pulse – latest CAMH news, discoveries and ways to get involved delivered to your inbox.
Please select a newsletter
Please complete the following:
We look forward to keeping you informed, inspired and involved in all things CAMH.
Your donation will fund the groundbreaking mental health research that is helping people on the path to recovery.