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Anabolic Steroids Treatment

Withdrawal Symptoms of Anabolic Steriods

Withdrawal symptoms are not universally experienced, but may include the following, which abusers who take anabolic steroids cyclically (cycling) may experience often:

  • mood swings
  • sleep cycle disturbances, such as fatigue and insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • restlessness
  • reduced sex drive
  • headache
  • joint and muscle pain
  • desire to continue taking anabolic steroids (dependency or addiction)
  • suicidal depression

Depression resulting from withdrawal from anabolic steroids can be severe and lead to suicide attempts, so should be referred to a health care professional. Evaluation for suicidal thoughts is a recommended practice for all people withdrawing from anabolic steroid abuse. Symptoms resulting from withdrawal can last for up to a year.

Treatment of Anabolic Steroids

Treatment for Withdrawal

Treatment upon withdrawal from the use of anabolic steroids needs to address the withdrawal symptoms and also any complications of the steroid use. With a goal of abstinence, treatment is likely to include therapy and counseling. If major depression is present, antidepressants may be prescribed and hospitalization may be required. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be employed to alleviate joint and muscle pain.

Some attempts have been made to use medications to restore the hormonal system from the disturbances caused by the use of anabolic steroids. However, there have not been many studies of treatment of anabolic steroid use, so not much is definitively known.

Assessing physical complications is also necessary. Complications such as heart disease, liver cancer, HIV, or hepatitis, are top priorities for treatment, but may not have been previously suspected.
Irreversible Effects

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  • If steroids are used during adolescence, they may prematurely and irreversibly end the growth spurt, due to skeletal maturation and acceleration of puberty, so that the user never reaches his or her full height.
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) in males who use steroids is irreversible.
  • With long enough use, breast reduction in females who use steroids is irreversible.
  • Male pattern baldness is also irreversible.
  • Sperm production usually resumes and the quality of sperm usually recovers, but with long enough use, men can become sterile.

There may be other effects that are not reversible as well.

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Men and Body Image

Treatment for withdrawal from any illegal drug generally tries to offer some ways to address the impetus that originally led to the choice as part of relapse prevention. In some cases with anabolic steroids, the goal will be success in competition, as a bodybuilder, weight lifter, or other athlete. But a report from Harvard University published in the Harvard Gazette in February, 2005, cites concerning a study of body image found that to achieve a physique that they found ideal, increasing numbers of Western men were employing anabolic steroids.

In addition, an article in Paradigm – the publication of the Illinois Institute for Addition Recovery at Proctor Hospital dated Spring, 2006 – points out that anabolic steroids were originally used for performance enhancement, building muscle size and strength, and “bulking up” without fat, the use of anabolic steroids by non-athletes is increasing, with models and actors choosing steroids to enhance their appearance.

Both of these reports suggests that body image may be an issue that needs addressing in treatment.

Withdrawal and Treatment of Anabolic Steroids Sources

  • pdf Steroid Abuse by School Age Children: A Guide for Parents and School Officials:

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