One major benefit to getting sober is the improvement in general health and wellness. When we stop assaulting our bodies with drugs and alcohol, we not only look better, but feel better. Many people use this opportunity to begin working out and eating healthier, and use fitness as a way to relieve stress and improve self-esteem. However, addicts and alcoholics can take anything to the extreme- even something as positive as personal health. The use of steroids to gain muscle mass and attain a certain physical form is not new, but could put a former addict on shaky ground.
What Are Steroids, and How Are They Used?
Steroids, particularly anabolic steroids, are synthetic drugs that are related to testosterone, the male sex hormone. These drugs promote muscle growth and male characteristics. Steroids supplements are available both by prescription for certain medical conditions, or more commonly, through illicit sales over the internet. They are most commonly injected intramuscularly, or taken orally. While they do produce significant changes in physical appearance, they have been associated with significant physical and mental/emotional side effects, including acne, breast development in men, heart attacks, liver cancer, reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, infection, aggressive/violent behavior, mood swings, impaired judgment, depression, nervousness, and delusions . With all these negative effects, it is shocking that such a large number of people continue to use these drugs. Over a million Americans have admitted to using anabolic steroids at some point in their lives. But what does steroid abuse mean to recovering addicts and alcoholics?
Steroid Use for Recovering Addicts
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a gray area in terms of sobriety. Some will tell you that using steroids counts as a relapse, and that steroid use counts as dependence on a drug (that could potentially be mind/mood-altering), so they counteract true sobriety. Others believe that since steroids are used for physical effect, they can safely be used by those in recovery as long as their use is kept in moderation. Essentially, this is a question only the person considering tking them can answer for themselves. But here are some things to consider.
- Steroid use without a doctor’s prescription is illegal at both the federal level and in many states. First-time possession carries up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Trafficking increases that penalty to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, and secondary or further offenses often double these penalties.
- Steroids do have the potential to be addictive, given their continued abuse despite physical, emotional, and social problems. Steroid abusers often spend lots of time and money (that they may not have) obtaining the drugs, and users that try to go off steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms, including mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, steroid cravings, and suicidal depression.
- Use of steroids often goes hand-in-hand with preoccupation with obtaining and using the drugs, as well as dishonesty with others about use.
Many of these effects or associated behaviors are nearly identical to the way we lived when we were in active addiction. Further, the visual and physical cues from injecting steroids could trigger a relapse for users who previously injected other illicit drugs. Needless to say, this is tricky territory, and something that should be heavily weighed by anyone in recovery before beginning a cycle of steroid-taking. As former addicts and alcoholics, we are always looking for an easier, softer way, and steroids are the perfect example of that. You may ultimately decide that the risks aren’t worth it, and that you simply want to commit yourself to a workout and diet regimen that will help you accomplish your fitness goals over a longer period of time. If this is something you are considering, talk to your sponsor or someone with solid recovery about it first. No amount of physical “improvement” is worth risking your sobriety and your life over, and steroid taking is a game of russian roulette.
If you or someone you know is addicted to steroids, inpatient rehab can help. Call the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today for your free confidential assessment, 1-800-203-2024.