Even though anabolic steroids do not cause the same high as other drugs, they can lead to addiction. Studies have shown that animals will self-administer steroids when they have the chance, just as they do with other addictive drugs. People may continue to abuse steroids despite physical problems, high costs to buy the drugs, and negative effects on their relationships. These behaviors reflect steroids' addictive potential. Research has further found that some steroid users turn to other drugs, such as opioids, to reduce sleep problems and irritability caused by steroids.
Each user experiences their own unique feelings when using steroids and coming off the drug. When someone chooses to stop using they can experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms linked to addiction. Symptoms can include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, the desire to take more steroids, and depression. Evidence for steroid addiction is certainly not as strong as it is for other drugs like cocaine or heroin. Though it is clear that people develop a tolerance and dependence on them and willingly experience negative consequences when using steroids - both of which are signs for drug dependence.
Side-effects from the use of steroids are extremely common and can be quite significant. Most side-effects are reversible once the athlete stops usage although serious long-term side-effects and even death have occurred as a direct result of steroid use.
• Decreased sperm production and sex drive
• Increased aggression, irritability and mood swings
• Liver disorders
• Baldness (alopecia)
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Raised cholesterol
• Gynecomastia (development of over-sized mammary glands in males)
• Menstrual irregularities (in women)
• Hirsuitism (excessive hair growth occurring in females which follows the pattern of male hair growth, . facial)
• Deepening of the voice
• Reduced immunity
• Possible development of tumors (wilm’s tumor, prostate carcinoma and leukemia have been reported, although a connection is not proven)