Anabolic Steroids are any drugs chemically related to testosterone, a male hormone that promotes muscle growth. There are more than 100 varieties of anabolic steroids but only a limited number have been approved for human use. Anabolic Steroids are Schedule III substances and require a prescription in order to be used medically in the United States.

Illicit steroid use is linked to athletic competitions and/or an athlete trying to gain a competitive edge. Some individuals may use steroids to alter their to increase their muscle mass.


  • It has been estimated that 2.9 million to 4.0 million individuals in the United States, nearly all of whom are male, have used steroids at some time in their lives.
  • The same study estimated that about 1 million men in the United States have experienced steroid dependence.

Physical effects

  • Anabolic effects that include increases in muscle mass, the size of some internal organs, and calcium in the bones.
  • Androgenic effects, which include masculinizing effects like deepening of the voice, increased facial hair, and initial enlargement of some male sex glands.

Side effects

Short-term health effects: 

  • Acne
  • Fluid retention
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep)
  • Headaches
  • Reduced sexual functioning
  • Increase in muscle size
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Improved healing
  • Improved appetite
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Damage to the heart
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty or pain while urinating
  • Breast reduction in women
  • Excessive hair growth


Long-term health effects:

  • Liver disease or liver cancer
  • Development of breasts
  • Shrinking of the testicles
  • Enlarged clitoris in women
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles in women
  • Blood clotting difficulties
  • Development of cholesterol patterns associated with coronary heart disease, obstructed blood vessels, or stroke
  • Heart attacks
  • Clotting disorders
  • Cardiovascular, liver, and reproductive organ damage
  • Premature heart attacks and strokes
  • Reduced sexual functioning
  • Stunted growth in adolescents
  • Increased chance of injuring ligaments, tendons and muscles
  • When injecting: bacterial infections, abscesses, cellulitis, and HIV/AIDS
  • Increase in muscle size

 Psychological Effects

  • Increase aggressiveness or lead them to become more violent
  • Extreme mood swings can also occur.
  • Depression is often seen when the drugs are stopped and may contribute to a dependence on anabolic steroids.
  • Paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.
  • Steroid addiction and dependence

Signs and symptoms of steroid abuse

  • Very low body fat, extreme muscularity, disproportionately large upper torso
  • Acne on face, shoulders, back
  • Pigmented striae on skin
  • Excessive facial or body hair
  • Superficial confidence; feelings of invincibility or grandiosity
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration or excessive argumentativeness to the point of rage
  • Obsession with weight training, conditioning, body image, appearance
  • Dissatisfaction with appearance despite what others perceive
  • Extremely baggy or loose clothing


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  • Grassley, C. The Abuse of Anabolic Steroids and Their Precursors by Adolescent and Amateur Athletes. Opening remarks to a hearing before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, July 13, 2004.
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