Top 10 Signs of Steroid Use, Steroid Abuse Symptoms & Addiction Treatment

Using steroids without a valid prescription or distributing them is illegal. Steroid abuse is associated with a range of physical and emotional problems. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with steroid abuse.

Signs of Steroid Use. How To Tell Someone is on Steroids

While most individuals on steroids aren’t muscle-bound bodybuilders, it’s still possible to know if a person uses steroids just by looking at them. Many are curious whether certain family members or loved ones are abusing anabolic-androgenic steroids. However, due to legality issues, health concerns, and social stigmas, many steroid abusers do not want to disclose such details (even to loved ones).

What is a steroid? Steroids are a man-made version of chemicals known as hormones, made naturally in the human body. Steroids are designed to act like these hormones to reduce inflammation. Steroids refer to two different classifications of drugs; corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammation medications usually prescribed to help treat conditions that cause inflammation, such as lupus or asthma. They are different from anabolic steroids, which act as performance-enhancing drugs.

The majority of steroid users take steroids to either enhance athletic performance or enhance their appearance. Most athlete steroid users take the drugs as a shortcut to becoming leaner, more muscular, and generally looking better. Many steroid users do not have the stereotypical bodybuilder physique. Signs of steroid use usually involve rapid lean muscle gain within ten weeks.

You might notice that your loved one is working out a lot more and receiving random packages in the mail. If the pills are in a bottle, you might hear them rattling around. If your loved one is getting vials, there may be warnings around the package that the contents are fragile. Signs of steroid abuse also include ordering syringes and needles.

10 Signs of Steroid Use in Males

1. Flushed Skin

Anabolic steroids cause LDL cholesterol levels to plummet and HDL levels to rise, causing hypertension to different degrees (depending on the compounds used). One symptom of high blood pressure is an increase in core body temperature. It is essential to understand that some individuals naturally have a flushed appearance on their skin. However, if someone’s complexion has been altered, this can lead to steroid use.

2. Sudden Changes in Body Composition

If someone suddenly blows up and gains 30 lbs of muscle mass in the last few weeks, this indicates steroid use. Steroid use in bodybuilding is very common. Building muscle naturally is a very slow process that takes many years of hard work and discipline in regard to nutrition and training. If someone has built large amounts of muscle while simultaneously getting leaner, this indicates anabolic steroid assistance.

This is because it is very challenging for natural bodybuilders to add muscle and burn fat simultaneously due to a calorie surplus often needed to gain weight and a calorie deficit required to lose weight. Steroid use before and after signs is the sudden changes in body composition.

3. “Roid” Rage

Roid is slang for anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids increase serum testosterone levels to exceptionally high levels. Consequently, aggression is likely to increase, resulting in bursts of anger in some steroid users. The degree of aggression is likely to depend on the person. However, most steroid users will notice themselves becoming less patient and more irritable with the people around them.

4. Disproportionate Muscle Groups

The before and after steroid use can be evident in disproportionate muscles. Research shows that steroid users who participate in weight training build significantly more hypertrophy (size) and strength than sedentary steroid users. Therefore, if someone were to take steroids and not train specific muscles (such as their quadriceps), this could result in a more disproportionate body compared to a natural weightlifter training in the same fashion.

5. Hair Loss (Male Pattern Baldness)

Steroid use signs may include hair loss. Anabolic steroid use often damages hair follicles on the scalp, resulting in genetically sensitive individuals experiencing MPB (male pattern baldness) or alopecia. High levels of androgens in the body significantly elevate DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels, causing hair follicle shrinkage. This can lead to thinning, recession or loss of hair on the scalp while thickening and accelerating hair growth on the body.

6. Acne

One of the visual signs of steroid use is the development of acne. Acne vulgaris or seborrhea (oily skin) can be visual signs of steroid use face and are particularly common when androgenic compounds are used (examples: Trenbolone, Testosterone, Anadrol).

7. Exceptional Deltoid/Trapezius Development

Steroid use in sports is a very sensitive issue. The trapezius muscles and deltoids (shoulder) often experience the most growth when taking anabolic steroids. This is because a higher number of androgen receptors are found in these muscles, causing them to be more susceptible to increased hypertrophy (size) when under the influence of androgenic compounds.

8. Gynecomastia

One of the many symptoms of steroid use is Gynecomastia.It is the swelling or enlargement of breast tissue in men. This happens due to hormone imbalance, specifically estrogen dominance. Many anabolic steroids have the aromatase enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen (the female sex hormone).

9. Difficulty Urinating

Bodybuilder steroid use may lead to difficulty in urinating. Steroid use side effects may include benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate gland enlargement). This may lead to blocked urinary flow, making it more difficult for men to urinate.

10. Erectile Dysfunction

Long term effects of steroid use may lead to erectile dysfunction. Erection quality is likely to increase when taking steroids due to significant spikes in exogenous testosterone and nitric oxide production. However, as a steroid cycle reaches its latter stages and eventually ceases, ED is a common side effect due to the shutting down of endogenous (natural) testosterone.

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Steroid Abuse Statistics

Most people who misuse steroids are male non-athlete weightlifters in their 20s or 30s. Contrary to popular belief, only 22 percent of anabolic steroid users started as teenagers. Anabolic steroid use is less common among females since fewer women desire extreme muscularity and the masculinizing effects of steroids. It is difficult to estimate the true prevalence of steroid misuse in the United States because many surveys that ask about illicit drug use do not include questions about steroids.

4% and 12%

Prevalence rates for steroid use generally range between 4% and 12% among male adolescents and between 0.5% and 2% for female adolescents.

Source: NCBI

Hundreds of Thousands

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that estimates of the number of individuals 18 and older who abuse steroids are in the hundreds of thousands.

Source: NIDA


Four percent of high school seniors in the United States abused steroids at least once in their lifetime, and 1.4 percent abused steroids in the past month,

Source: NIDA

Steroids Drug Fact Sheet

What are Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone that are abused in an attempt to promote muscle growth, enhance athletic or other physical performance, and improve physical appearance.

Testosterone, trenbolone, oxymetholone, methandrostenolone, nandrolone, stanozolol, boldenone, and oxandrolone are some of the anabolic steroids that are most commonly encountered by United States law enforcement.

What is Their Origin?

Most illicit steroids are smuggled into the U.S. from abroad. Steroids are also illegally diverted from legitimate sources (theft or inappropriate prescribing). The Internet is the most widely used means of buying and selling anabolic steroids. Steroids are also bought and sold at gyms, bodybuilding competitions, and schools from teammates, coaches, and trainers.

What are Common Street Names?

  • Arnolds
  • Juice
  • Pumpers
  • Roids
  • Stackers,
  • eight Gainers

What Do They Look Like?

Steroids are available in:

  • Tablets and capsules
  • Sublingual-tablets
  • Liquid drops, gels
  • Creams
  • Transdermal patches
  • Subdermal implant pellets
  • Water-based and oil-based injectable solutions

The appearance of these products varies depending on the type and manufacturer.

How Are They Abused?

Steroids are ingested orally, injected intramuscularly, or applied to the skin. The doses abused are often 10 to 100 times higher than the approved therapeutic and medical treatment dosages. Users typically take two or more anabolic steroids at the same time in a cyclic manner, believing that this will improve their effectiveness and minimize the adverse effects.

What Are Their Overdose Effects?

Anabolic steroids are not associated with overdoses. The adverse effects a user would experience develop from using steroids over time.

Are Anabolic Steroids Addictive?

An undetermined percentage of steroid users may develop a steroid use disorder. Substance use disorders are defined by continued use despite adverse consequences; for steroid users, these may include physical or psychological problems such as breast growth (in men), sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, excessive fats in the blood, heart disease, mood swings, severe irritability, or aggressiveness.

Long term side effects of steroid use are dependence and addiction to the substance.Anabolic steroid users also may give up other important activities for fear that they will miss workouts, violate their dietary restrictions, or be prevented from using steroids. Steroid users also typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, and they may try to reduce or stop anabolic steroid use without success—possibly due to depression, anxiety about losing muscle mass, or other unpleasant effects of withdrawal.

Withdrawal from steroids occurs when an individual develops dependence. A review of the research suggests that about 32 percent of people who misuse anabolic steroids become dependent. Symptoms of dependence can include tolerance, which requires taking more steroids to achieve the same effects. Another indicator of dependence is withdrawal once anabolic steroid use stops. Withdrawal symptoms can include fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts.

What are the signs of steroid use? Steroid use for bodybuilding is called anabolic steroids.
What are the signs of steroid use? Steroid use for bodybuilding is called anabolic steroids.

What are the Risks of Abusing Anabolic Steroids?

Many who abuse anabolic steroids will use them in “cycles.” They go on and off anabolic steroids to try to avoid adverse side effects from the drugs. Despite these “off” cycles, there are still long-term risks from taking steroids.

Abusing anabolic steroids can also stunt adolescents’ growth. Steroids can cause premature aging of the bones. If a teen hasn’t progressed fully through puberty but is taking steroids, they may become stuck at their current height. Injecting anabolic steroids increases the risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

What are the Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use?

Possible side effects of anabolic steroids include:

  • Vomiting blood
  • Yellow eyes and skin
  • Nerve damage
  • Abdominal pain
  • Baldness
  • Severe acne
  • Nausea
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Insomnia
  • Blood clots
  • High cholesterol
  • Oily skin
  • Hair loss
  • Liver disease, tumors, and cysts
  • Menstrual irregularities in women
  • Heart disease and attacks
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Infertility
  • Mood-swings
  • Shrinking of testicles
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Depression and suicidal tendencies
  • Altered cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Gynecomastia (male breast enlargement)
  • Excess facial or body hair (hirsutism)
  • Deeper voice in women
  • Stunted growth and height in teenagers
  • Viral or bacterial infections from injections

Which is a possible long term effect of steroid use? Steroid abuse can also lead to significant behavioral and psychiatric issues. One of the most common issues documented in long-term steroid users is violent behavior. Domestic violence, armed robbery, and even murder have been associated with steroid use.

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What are the Side Effects of Long Term Steroid Use?

Most medications, including steroids, have consequences if you need to take them over a prolonged period. Steroids (Corticosteroids) are commonly taken for a short period — for example, to treat upper respiratory infections, acute bronchitis, and uveitis (inflammation in the eye’s middle layer). However, some people need to take steroids over the long term because of the nature of their condition. Steroid long term use for arthritis is a typical example. Other conditions treated by steroids long-term include:

  • Asthma
  • Psoriasis
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

While all medications have side effects, a short course of steroids doesn’t usually cause issues. However, if you have to take steroids over the long term, you need to know about possible side effects, which can include:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Increase appetite (and weight gain as a result)
  • High blood pressure
  • A higher risk of infections, especially viral infections like measles and shingles
  • Pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Eye conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma
  • Cushing’s syndrome — symptoms include fatty deposits on your chest, tummy, back of your neck, and shoulders, a puffy face, stretch marks and skin that bruises easily.
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping

What is safe steroid use? If you stop taking some steroid medications — such as topical steroids to treat skin conditions — after using them for 12 months or more, you may suffer from withdrawal side effects, including:

  • Redness or changes to your skin color
  • Burning, stinging, itchy, or peeling skin

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What is a Systemic Corticosteroid?

Systemic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the natural steroid cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, and have profound anti-inflammatory effects. Corticosteroids are different from the male hormone-related steroid compounds that some athletes abuse.

Systemic (cortico)steroids are also called glucocorticoids or cortisones. They include:

  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Beclomethasone
  • Betamethasone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Triamcinolone

Prednisone and prednisolone are equivalent and are the most commonly prescribed oral corticosteroids for inflammatory skin diseases. 

What are the Side Effects of Systemic Steroid Use?

Side effects are rarely severe if a systemic steroid has been prescribed for one month or less. The following problems may arise, particularly when higher doses are taken:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Increase in postprandial blood sugar
  • Psychological effects, including increased or decreased energy.

Rare and potentially serious side effects of a short course of corticosteroid include:

  • Severe infection
  • Mania, psychosis, delirium, depression with suicidal intent
  • Heart failure
  • Peptic ulceration
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Avascular necrosis of the hip. 
Long term steroid use can help treat conditions associated with inflammation, but ongoing steroid use can cause side effects.
Long term steroid use can help treat conditions associated with inflammation, but ongoing steroid use can cause side effects.

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What are the Side Effects of Prolonged Use of Steroid Eye Drops?

What are the side effects of chronic steroid use? Side effects of prolonged use of steroid eye drops is glaucoma. Steroid eye drops may cause glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye) or posterior subcapsular cataracts (a rare type of cataract) if used too long. Slow or delayed healing may also occur while you are using this medicine after cataract surgery. This medicine may cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

How long can you use steroid eye drops? As with any medicine, you should always follow the recommended instructions on the label. You shouldn’t use over-the-counter eyedrops for more than 2 to 3 days. If you use them for longer than that, it can make matters worse. You shouldn’t use eyedrops if you have an eye infection or glaucoma.

How common is steroid use in gyms?  Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are said to be frequently used by both professional and amateur athletes.
How common is steroid use in gyms? Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are said to be frequently used by both professional and amateur athletes.

What is the Effect of Long Term Steroid Use on Skin?

What is steroid cream used for? The introduction of topical corticosteroids (TC) by Sulzberger and Witten in 1952 is considered the most significant landmark in treating dermatological disorders. This historical event was gradual, followed by the introduction of a large number of newer TC molecules of varying potency rendering the treatment of various inflammatory cutaneous disorders more effective and less time-consuming. 

Although, it is this very usefulness of the drug has become a double-edged sword and made it vulnerable to now an alarming proportion with constantly rising instances of abuse and misuse leading to local severe, systemic, and psychological side effects. Such misuse occurs more with TC of higher potency and on softer areas of the body, particularly the face and genitalia.

While TC addiction can manifest with features of TSDF, its withdrawal is also accompanied by repeated flares of photosensitivity, erythema, papules, and pustules accompanied by intense itching and burning, characteristics of the so-called “topical steroid damaged facies (TSDF).” TC misuse has thus become almost an epidemic needing immediate attention from all quarters.

The most common effects of long term steroid use on skin may include atrophy, striae, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, acne, and purpura. Hypertrichosis, pigment alteration, delayed wound healing, and exacerbation of skin infections are less frequent.

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Steroid Addiction Treatment

If you think a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of drug addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. To better understand how long steroids stay in your system, it is essential to get medical assistance when needed. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of drug withdrawal. 

Steroid Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated drug detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the drug detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Drug Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using drugs and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.


Many rehab programs will also have early morning classes or programs. Group sessions occur during inpatient rehab, as do individual therapy sessions. Family therapy may be part of inpatient rehab when it’s feasible. Alternative forms of therapy may be introduced during inpatient rehab, like a holistic therapy program, yoga for addiction recovery, or an addiction treatment massage therapy.

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our drug addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Drug Rehab Near Me

Drug addiction is a condition that can cause significant health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like drug withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please understand that each call is private and confidential.

What are the side effects of steroid use? Acne caused by steroids can be severe, increasing the risk of permanent scarring.
What are the side effects of steroid use? Acne caused by steroids can be severe, increasing the risk of permanent scarring.

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