Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’re looking for quick answers or simply browsing the site for good reliable information, you’ve found the right page.

What are anabolic steroids?
Why are kids motivated to use anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs?
What do anabolic steroids look like, and how are they used?
Where do anabolic steroids come from? And how do young people get them?
Are anabolic steroids illegal?
What are the legal ramifications if I get caught with steroids?
What are the side effects of using anabolic steroids?
Can anabolic steroids affect behavior?
Are steroids any more dangerous for teens than for adults?
Is it OK for females to take anabolic steroids?
Do steroids cause permanent damage?
Can I get addicted to steroids?
Are the steroids sold on the street “real” steroids?
Is it safe to take the “natural” steroids or supplements sold at health food stores?
What about Creatine?
What can parents do to combat steroid use?
Are there effective treatments for steroid abuse?
What happens when you stop using anabolic steroids?
How can I get help?


What are anabolic steroids?
steroids-needlesAnabolic steroids are a man-made synthetic derivative of testosterone (the male sex hormone). Testosterone is responsible for normal growth and development of the male sex organs and for the maintenance of secondary sex characteristics, including growth and maturation of the prostate, seminal vesicles, penis and scrotum. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, but also body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.
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Why are kids motivated to use anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs?
Recent studies by university scientists show that the top 3 reasons cited by people for first time use of anabolic steroids are (in order of priority):
1. Improve physical appearance/body image
2. To feel better about myself
3. Improve athletic performance

That said, it’s not just athletes who are using anabolic steroids. We estimate that about half of the users are what we call “mirror athletes” – users who want to look like athletes, but have no interest in competing on an athletic field.
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What do anabolic steroids look like, and how are they used?
Anabolic steroids come in the form of tablets, capsules, a solution for injection and a cream or gel to rub into the skin. Weight lifters, bodybuilders and athletes who use steroids often take doses that are up to 100 times greater than those used to treat medical conditions. Although regimented methods of taking steroids – like Cycling, Pyramiding and Stacking – are believed to enhance the effects of these drugs and lessen harm to the body, there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.

  • Cycling: A period of taking and then not taking the drugs in the belief that the drug-free cycle allows the body to recover normal hormone levels.
  • Pyramiding: Taking doses in cycles of six to 12 weeks, starting with a low dose, slowly increasing it, and then decreasing the amount to zero. Thus supposedly allows the body time to adjust to the high doses.
  • Stacking: Taking two or more types of steroids – like oral and injectable forms – to theoretically have a greater impact.

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Where do anabolic steroids come from? And how do young people get them?
Virtually all the anabolic steroids that are sold on the “street” are illegally imported from China. They are shipped in a powder form then mixed with baby oil, cooking oil, Wesson oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and sometimes even horse urine, ArmorAll, ormotor oil, before being put in a vial for sale to users. They are easy to obtain from sources at the local gym, school and online.
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Are anabolic steroids illegal?
Yes, anabolic steroids are illegal to possess without a legitimate prescription from a medical doctor. Steroids are classified as controlled substances and carry with them felony charges for simple possession in many states. Whether you are charged with the intent to distribute or simple possession, you might as well be dealing or using crack cocaine in the eyes of the law. Authorities make arrests at traffic stops, border crossings and through mail interceptions (mail order is a major avenue used in black market distribution). Steroids are Schedule III substances under the Controlled Substances Act of the U.S. Federal Government, and they are Schedule IV controlled substances in Canada. Potential legal problems and the mark of a felony conviction are side effects of steroids that should not be overlooked.
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What are the legal ramifications if I get caught with steroids?
Federal and most state laws dictate that the sale of anabolic steroids, possession of steroids, or possession of steroids with intent to sell, are all classified as felonies. Any individual who is convicted of the sale of steroids, or possesses steroids unlawfully with intent to sell, may be penalized by up to 5 years in prison under federal law. That same individual may face more than 5 years of punishment, depending on their states law. Almost every state has sanctioned various laws placing anabolic steroids in the Controlled Substance category.
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What are the side effects of using anabolic steroids?
Some of the common side effects include: oily skin, acne, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, increased chance of injury, high blood pressure, weakening of the heart, low sperm count, cancer, increased aggression, psychosis, mood swings and depression.

Go to our Dangers of Anabolic Steroids page for more details.
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Can anabolic steroids affect behavior?
Case reports and small studies indicate that anabolic steroids, particularly in high doses, increase irritability and aggression. Some steroid abusers report that they have committed aggressive acts, such as physical fighting, committing armed robbery, or using force to obtain something. Anabolic steroids have also been reported to cause euphoria, increased energy, sexual arousal, mood swings, distractibility, forgetfulness and confusion. Go to our Signs of Steroid Abuse page for more details.
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Are steroids any more dangerous for teens than for adults?
Yes. In addition to the standard list of side effects, teens can face further side effects from steroids including the permanent stunting of growth. Using before the growth process is completed can actually condemn a young person to never even reaching his natural genetic potential as growth plates are permanently closed. Even the most ardent of steroid supporters will typically advise against steroid use before a person reaches their mid-20s and the natural growth process has been fully completed.
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Is it OK for females to take anabolic steroids?
Steroids are used to make men manlier, and for this single reason, steroids are far more potentially harmful for females to use than males. Some negative side effects of taking steroids are permanent. Some of these can include, but aren’t limited to: deepening of the voice, increased body hair (including the growth of dark facial hair), loss of scalp hair, liver or kidney damage, oily skin, acne, clitoral enlargement, decreased breast size and increased levels of LDL cholesterol. Go to our Dangers of Anabolic Steroids page for more details.
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Do steroids cause permanent damage?
Yes. Use of anabolic steroids can overall shorten life expectancy. They are very damaging to the body and cause lasting and/or life-threatening results. Go to our Dangers of Anabolic Steroids page for more details.
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Can I get addicted to steroids?
Although they are not physically addictive, steroids are most definitely psychologically addictive. To find out if you are a steroid junkie, take the following quiz. Four or more YES answers mean you’ve got yourself a very serious problem.

  • Have you been regularly using steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs) for at least two years or more?
  • Have you been on two or more drug cycles in the past six months?
  • Are you stacking your APEDs by taking three or more different drugs at the same time?
  • Have you had problems like blood in the urine or semen, sharp back or abdominal pains, inability to get an erection, pains in your chest, light-headedness, uncontrollable rage, and still you continue to use steroids?
  • Have you encouraged others to use steroids and perhaps even sold APEDs to them?
  • Do you stay on “light” dosages between regular cycles because you’re convinced that complete cessation will make you lose all of your steroid gains?
  • Do you continue to use APEDs even if your wife or girlfriend has begged you to quit?
  • Have you tried to quit several times only to go back again?
  • Are you spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on steroids while your bills continue to mount?

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Are the steroids sold on the street “real” steroids?
Not always. It’s estimated by many that most of the steroids on the black market are counterfeit. These drugs, often indistinguishable from the real thing to even the well-trained eye, present additional danger to users. Manufactured in underground labs, outside of safe pharmaceutical practices, these drugs can become contaminated creating additional health risks. And oftentimes, substances sold as steroids aren’t really steroids at all.
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Is it safe to take the “natural” steroids or supplements sold at health food stores?
So-called “natural” steroids, which are sold as over-the-counter supplements at many health food stores, are NOT safe. Because natural steroids contain “natural” substances that aren’t chemically altered, they can be marketed as dietary supplements – which are subject to limited regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Still, they can have the same harmful effects as synthetic steroids. Go to our Dietary Supplements page for more details.
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What about Creatine?
Creatine is sold as a supplement and not regulated by the FDA or any other agency.  Manufacturers have been known to dilute or contaminate it with other substances, including anabolic steroids, that may inadvertently lead to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. Go to our Dietary Supplements page for more details.
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What can parents do to combat steroid use?
Much of the steroid use among teens is happening secretly, and in many cases parents are not aware of the purchase and use of the steroids by their child. Therefore, it’s critical that parents are well informed about the issues around steroids and talk to their children openly about the use of APEDs. Go to our Talking To Our Kids page for more details.
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Are there effective treatments for steroid abuse?
Few studies of treatments for anabolic steroid abuse have been conducted. However, physicians have found that supportive therapy is sufficient treatment in some cases. Patients are educated about what they may experience during withdrawal and are evaluated for suicidal thoughts. If symptoms are severe or prolonged, medications or hospitalization may be needed.

  • Withdrawal symptoms: Mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, headaches, anxiety and depression that can lead to suicide attempts. These feelings can persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking drugs.

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What happens when you stop using anabolic steroids?
The biggest mistake a person can make when they decide to stop using steroids is to just stop taking them altogether. Steroids are powerful hormonal drugs in which the body has to be weaned off of properly. Talk to a medical professional about the discontinuation of steroids. Because of doctor patient confidentially, you should not be afraid to discuss steroids or how to stop using them.
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How can I get help?
Call the Drug Help National Hotline at 800-378-4435 for guidance and confidential advice. Talk to an adult: parents, doctor, coaches or school nurse.
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