Steroids are a man-made chemical compound that mimics testosterone in our bodies. It was originally used in medical settings to help those who lose muscle due to health conditions or recovering from medical issues or surgery.
In the modern day steroids are rife in medical settings, in sports settings, and in domestic gym settings.
Shockingly, 95% of steroid users, medical or otherwise, report side effects from the drug. Moreover, the drug is widely used in sports to reach performance levels beyond what we can imagine as well as in your local gym by those who have body image issues.
Extreme doses of steroids in domestic settings can be 100% the dose given medically. For this reason, many people end up addicted to the drug in either chemical or mental capacities.
Use of anabolic steroids is a widely debated topic, without getting into this debate too much there are serious disadvantages to overuse of steroids as there is with any drug.
Whether you have taken steroids at the gym, or are trying to come off a high dose prescription, it can certainly be hard.
To avoid any further health concerns as well as being prepared for what’s to come, being informed is your best way to tackle your own withdrawal and detox as well as a loved one’s.
What Is Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is the medical name for the side effects experienced when withdrawing from using a drug that has some addictive qualities.
These can be both mental and physical: for example, seeking the thrill of a drug is more of a mental addiction, feeling physically fatigued and sick from not using a drug is a biological effect of withdrawing. In any case, these side effects are referred to as ‘withdrawal symptoms’
When withdrawing from steroid use it's important to recognise how this affects your hormones. As steroids deal in testosterone, your hormonal balance will be affected when you take it and withdrawal from using the drug will lead to a shift in your hormones.
Using steroids affects your body’s ability to produce testosterone naturally, whether you are a man or woman.
The mental effects of playing around with your testosterone levels can often be understated and overlooked.
Domestic steroid abuse at the gym is commonly due to distorted body image and acceptance, when you choose to stop taking steroids you may feel like you are giving up the body you ‘worked hard’ to achieve and this can lead to depression in itself.
In any case, coming off steroids will largely affect your hormonal balance and once your balance is set off like this many mental health issues can actually be the most serious danger to your life.
If you have previous issues with depression and anxiety this could be the most of your worries, and inpatient monitoring is recommended.
Here are a list of the mental effects of steroid withdrawal:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased anxiety
- Body dysmorphia
- Increased cravings
- Decreased libido
- Trouble concentrating
Beyond these mental effects there are obviously some physical side effects from coming off any drug that you should be informed about.
These symptoms are caused by a lack of natural testosterone production as your body tries to equalise the balance of hormones after unnaturally increasing a certain hormone.
These physical symptoms can include, although not limited to:
- Lack of appetite
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling weak
- Decreased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Your blood pressure, and muscles will be affected the most as your body will struggle to keep up with previously established blood pressure as a result of steroid use.
Moreover your muscles will be seeking help to maintain mass while your levels of testosterone return to their previous levels and increase blood pressure also. Those with heart conditions are to be specifically cautious with these symptoms.
None of these physical symptoms will lead directly to death, although in combination with pre-existing problems they could.
Suicidal thoughts, and the effect of withdrawal on your mental health, could potentially be the biggest cause for concern as hormones monitor your mental condition as well as your biology.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
This is hard to say for sure without knowing a user's history with steroids. Many things can affect the duration of your withdrawal period.
If you have been using steroids for a long time this can prolong symptoms and how long it takes your body to return to its natural hormone balance.
Regardless of the length of your use, if you administered high doses of steroids over a shorter period of time, your withdrawal symptoms could stick around as long as a more long term user. Frequency of dose is a similar issue.
If you took a product that contained a combination of steroids and other drugs, then your recovery from withdrawal could last much longer and be exacerbated by also withdrawing from other addictive drugs.
Ultimately, your own medical history and biological makeup will dictate the withdrawal period. If you were mentall unwell when you started taking steroids, these mental symptoms of withdrawal may stick around longer than you like.
Conversely, if you were particularly underweight or dealing with another medical issue when you started taking these drugs then this could also be exasperated
What Is A Detox?
A detox is the act of getting all traces of the drug you are addicted to out of your body; the act of flushing the drug from your system.
In some cases, this can be done by going ‘cold turkey’, a term used to refer to going from overuse to total abstinence with no in-between stage.
Otherwise, there are physical ways to flush drugs from your body using natural remedies as well as medicines.
Getting steroids out of your body, so your body can start to deal with the consequences of overuse, is the first step to getting back on track to a naturally regulated hormonal balance.
It’s generally considered that those who have abused steroids heavily or over a long period of time should enter a doctor-assisted detox rather than going in alone.
Doctors can evaluate your conditions and biology and recommend medications and natural remedies as well as methods of detox that can make the process easier.
Depending on your specific usage, some doctors will recommend the cold turkey approach, others will suggest you taper down.
The safest way to go is to taper down your usage by small increments so that your body can naturally flush it out and this also helps reduce the difference in your natural hormonal balance rather than a huge change that will send your hormones haywire.
A Final Word
Coming off steroids can be particularly hard as it can affect your mental health as well as your physical well being. The detoxing period can be essential to negating the undesirable effects, and understanding withdrawal symptoms is definitely a key to success.
Regardless of your situation, always seek the advice of your medical professional in order to know the best methods and the facts behind the drugs first.
If you have underlying mental health problems that could make you vulnerable to withdrawal, definitely get some help from family and friends, not just doctors.