Steroids and alcohol together pose a dangerous combination that can impact vital systems in the body, including the heart, liver, kidneys, immune system, gastrointestinal system, and can even lead to severe mental health issues.
Alcohol Use Statistics
Alcohol use is common among adults and even teens. In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2015) reported that among people aged 18 and older, 86.4% reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives.
Alcohol abuse can rapidly lead to addiction and is a real danger to the person drinking and other people. An estimated 88,000 Americans succumb to alcohol-related causes every year. According to the NSDUH, 15.1 million adults and 623,000 children age 12 to 17 experience an alcohol use disorder.
Steroid Use Statistics
Anabolic steroids are drugs that activate the hormone testosterone and are sometimes prescribed to help persons with certain kinds of anemia or males who don’t produce enough testosterone naturally. Recreationally, they are taken to increase muscle mass and enhance athletic performance. Approximately 3,000,000 people abuse anabolic steroids in America every year.
Those who abuse anabolic steroids for recreational purposes may use quantities up to 100 times higher than prescribed dosage amounts. Nearly all professional sports organizations ban the use of anabolic steroids for a variety of reasons. Of little surprise, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the largest single group of anabolic steroid abusers is male weightlifters.
Why Do People Combine Alcohol and Steroids?
Some people use alcohol and steroids without being aware of the possible health risks. They may take a steroid medication prescribed for a health issue and perhaps drink occasionally without considering potential side effects. However, whether intentional or accidental, regularly drinking alcohol while taking steroid medications for any reason can increase the risk of adverse health complications.
Some people who use anabolic steroids suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or have a distorted perception of their body shapes and sizes. In general, however, people who abuse steroids seek physical results, such as increased lean muscle mass, enhanced athletic performance, and reduced body fat. Many people on steroids shun alcohol due to its high-calorie content and ability to undermine metabolism. Still, others with BDD or other mental health problems may turn to alcohol as a means of self-medication.
If a person begins combining steroids and alcohol as a way to dull the adverse emotional effects of the steroids, they are likely doing more harm than good. Some of the potential side effects of using steroids by themselves include aggressive mood swings, emotional instability and volatility, hallucinations, and paranoia. These symptoms can be exacerbated when alcohol is thrown into the mix.
Potential Side Effects
The extended use of steroids and alcohol can compound the risk for certain side effects and health consequences. On their own, both anabolic steroid and alcohol abuse can have adverse effects on an individual’s health and well-being.
Steroid Side Effects
Common anabolic steroid side effects may include the following:
- Pain during urination
- Fluid retention
- Hair loss or growth
- Changes in sex drive
- Cardiovascular problems
- Tendon rupture
- Stunted growth in children
- Testicle shrinkage
- Low sperm count or sterility
- Male breast growth
- A deeper voice in women
- Breast shrinkage
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Mood swings and disorders
- Emotional dependence
Possible Combined Side Effects
In addition to the side effects as mentioned above, combining steroids and alcohol increases a person’s risk of the following:
- Liver damage
- Cardiovascular problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Psycho-emotional disorders
Serious Health Risks
The most significant risk an individual faces when they abuse steroids and alcohol is a high degree of liver toxicity. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prolonged steroid abuse can damage the liver and kidneys—two critical organs that are also commonly known to incur damage when a person drinks alcohol excessively. Thus, combining steroids and alcohol can overwhelm the liver even more rapidly, causing cirrhosis or liver failure.
Other physical dangers of combining these two substances include the following:
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Allergic reactions
Finally, many psychological side effects have been linked to the combined use of steroids and alcohol. Extended steroid use can cause mental instability, mania, and even psychotic symptoms. Even short-term steroid use can make an individual’s mood unpredictable, and may precipitate the infamous “roid rage.” If this volatile mindset combines with the reduced inhibitions of an intoxicated individual, it can potentially cause them to become dangerous, aggressive, or violent.
Treatment for Abuse of Steroids and Alcohol
Stopping abuse of anabolic steroids is the first step to preventing many of the undesirable and hazardous side effects of these substances. Suppose alcohol is used in conjunction with steroids. In that case, however, it is recommended that individuals seek addiction treatment at a specialized facility, such as Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers.
If you or someone you know is struggling with steroid abuse and alcohol addiction, we can help. Comprehensive treatment, including behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support is available for these disorders.
We urge you to contact us today to speak with one of our representatives and discover more about our treatment options!