Steroids Do More Than Build Muscle? What Steroids Really Do

Man Upset Over Steroid Drugs

In the morass of 21st-century drug addiction epidemics in the U.S., steroid abuse seems like just another problem that we have to contend with. The issue is a bit grimmer than that though. Today, steroid use by athletes and non-athletes alike is a rapidly growing issue, especially as pertains to young people who think they can “bulk up” by self-medicating on steroids.

Steroids are prescribed by doctors for patients with very specific health conditions, and because anabolic steroid drugs are legal and used as medicinal remedies, those who would self-medicate on them garner the erroneous concept that such drugs are “safe” and “okay to use.” They are not.

The Side Effects of Steroid Abuse

When abused, self-medicated on, or taken recreationally and without a prescription, steroids cause a wide range of negative health effects. Truly, these drugs do a lot more than just build muscle. Some of the side effects of steroids are:

  • Steroid users will often get acne on the face, arms, and back.
  • Mood swings are common, usually ranging from manic glee all the way to angry outbursts.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, and an inability to “wake up.”
  • Restlessness and agitation at odd times of the day.
  • Decreased appetite to the point of not eating at all.
  • Trouble sleeping at night, leading to improper sleeping habits.
  • Decreased sperm count in men.
  • Impotence in men, and sexual disorders in women.
  • Shrinking of the testicles in men.
  • Excessive hair growth in women and men both.
  • Deepening of the voice of women and men both.
  • The growth of breast tissue in men and shrinking of breast tissue in women.
  • Fertility issues and an inability to bear children in women.
  • Heart problems to the point of serious heart risk.
  • Elevated blood pressure that could lead to heart attacks.
  • Mania and hysteria at inappropriate moments.
  • Stroke and risk for serious implications of stroke.
  • Menstrual irregularities for women, sometimes resulting in skipped periods.
  • Anger and aggression that can lead to physical violence.
  • Paranoia and a feeling that “everyone is out to get me.”
  • Delusions of mass grandeur, sometimes bordering on hallucinations.
  • Heart attack from regular use of steroids.
  • Kidney failure and the need for emergency kidney treatment.
  • Tumors in the liver from continued use of steroids.
  • Blood-borne diseases from injection use and needle sharing if one is injecting steroids.
  • Apathy and depression, usually following angry outbursts.
  • Difficulty concentrating on given tasks at hand, and the appearance of having ADD or ADHD.
  • A decreased sex drive and an inability to become aroused for both men and women.
  • Headaches and migraines in both men and women.
  • Joint and muscle pain, and a weakening of the joints, tendons, and ligaments in spite of muscle growth.
  • Joint, tendon, and ligament failure and tearing due to repeated weakening.
  • Bones can become brittle and more likely to break after repeated steroid use.

As one can clearly see, the list of negative side effects from abusing steroids is far greater than what one might initially believe. The truth of the matter is that these drugs are very risky and very dangerous indeed, and they can cause serious health problems.

Steroids have very specific uses. Anabolic steroids are able to perform miracles for the scant percentage of men who actually do suffer from medically diagnosed testosterone difficulties. But for the masses of young men and women alike and adult men and women who take steroids recreationally, they are playing with fire and taunting death itself. For those who become addicted, rehabilitation is the answer. For the rest who are tempted but don’t partake, they need to stay away from steroids.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.