Signs of Steroid Abuse

Teen girls are the fastest growing group of users.The negative effects anabolic steroid abuse has on the human body can be devastating. They range from a minor case of oily skin to major long-term health complications, and potentially death. Steroids have a range of side effects, or changes experienced by the mind and body of a user.

These changes fit into three basic categories:
1. Internal changes, like high blood pressure or out-of-range liver values
2. More private or personal changes, like testicular atrophy (significant shrinking of the testicles)
3. Noticeable external changes, like severe acne or increased aggression

If you suspect your child, students, or friends are using anabolic steroids, you can look for a variety of short-term side effects that appear as symptoms – like visible changes in appearance, mood and behavior. Educating yourself about the signs of steroid abuse can help you identify symptoms before it's too late.

Physical Changes
Physical changes may be the most recognizable difference because the novice user cannot easily conceal these short-term symptoms.

  • Unusually fast muscle growth
  • Unusually greasy hair or oily skin (often with stretch marks on the inner joints)
  • Small red or purplish acne, including breakouts on the shoulders and back
  • Gynocomastia, the abnormally excessive development of the breast tissue in males
  • Bad breath
  • Thinning hair throughout the head or receding hairline (male pattern baldness)
  • Hair loss in bed, shower, comb or brush
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin
  • Skin eruptions and infections, such as abscesses and cysts
  • Drastic appetite shifts (extreme hunger or lessened/loss of appetite)
  • Joint pain; greater chance of injuring muscles and tendons
  • Disrupted sleep patterns (not sleeping well or sleeping too much)
  • Fluid level changes, bloating (face & body), and night sweating
  • Dizziness, trembling, nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid or progressive weight gain
  • Increased muscle size (sudden or progressive)
  • Hyperactivity or lethargy (too little energy)
  • Trouble urinating; discoloration or blood in urine

Personality & Emotional Changes
Personality and emotional changes often happen suddenly and without visible triggers or reasons.

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Becomes disrespectful or abusive (verbally and/or physically)
  • Poor decision making stemming from feelings of invincibility
  • Becomes secretive and/or starts lying
  • Withdraws from family members
  • Depression (especially when steroids are discontinued)
  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Paranoia – extreme feelings of mistrust or fear

Social Changes
Social changes witnessed may be mistaken for natural teenage distancing or independence.

  • Sudden urge to work out at the gym
  • Always has a towel covering the back when leaving the shower (to hide acne)
  • Closes and/or locks bedroom door more often
  • Changes in personal relationships with family and friends
  • Takes longer showers or baths (Extra time is often used for injecting)
  • Phone conversations become more private
  • Begins receiving more packages in the mail
  • Asks for money more often, or has more money than usual
  • Is stealing or losing belongings
  • Begins taking naps and/or falls asleep in class
  • Loss of focus or concentration (at work, school or home)
  • Decline in grades
  • Forgets plans, dates and activities
  • Sneaking around on the Internet wanting no one to see