Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Steroids

What’s the deal with steroids?

Anabolic and androgenic steroids are synthetic hormones that imitate the male sex hormone testosterone. The effect of steroids on the body is anabolic – meaning they assist in the growth, performance and stamina of the body. Steroids are known as Performance and Image Enhancing drugs or PIEDs and are taken by people to improve their physical appearance or enhance their sporting performance.

Peptides

There are many different types of steroid and each one has its own effect on the body. Some of the more readily available steroids include peptides. These stimulate the release of human growth hormone and play an important role in muscle and bone growth.

Hormones

These include growth hormones like AOD-9604, Selective Androgen Receptor Modules, Insulin Growth Factor or Mechano Growth Factor.

Trans or Intersex People

Whilst this page covers mostly the performance enhancing and sports use of steroids. some trans or intersex people may be using a range of androgens or hormones to assist with balancing out their hormones or for the purpose of medically transitioning gender. Some of these treatments such as Sustanon or Reandron are oil based testosterone injectables and they can also be used by bodybuilders for muscle growth. If you are trans or intersex and already on hormone therapy, please consult a doctor if you are also using extra for sports performance enhancing purposes as this can cause major health risks.

How does it work?

Steroids come as an injectable or in tablet form.

Effects

There is no such thing as a SAFE level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any form of drug.Steroids may affect people differently based on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the drug (this will differ across manufacturers and type of steroid)

Short Term Effects

The desirable effect of steroids on the body is in the improvement of physical strength and size. The expected side effects in the short term of using these substances may include:

  • Increase in the size and definition of muscles
  • Reduced water retention in the body
  • Reduced body fat to muscle ratio
  • Increased strength and endurance
  • Water retention – leading to facial bloating
  • Acne – leading to permanent scarring
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • More frequent colds
  • Aggression and violence
  • Increased self-image and self-esteem
  • Increased sex drive
  • Sleeping difficulties

Long Term Effects

The harm associated with PIEDs will depend on the type that is used. Different categories of drugs have different effects. If injected the additional harm associated with injecting drug use can be associated with PIEDs. A number of the synthetic peptides and growth hormones are experimental or not yet approved for use it is difficult to ascertain the specific harm they may cause. Use of steroids can have negative physical, psychological and behavioural side effects including:

  • Increased acne
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess strain on the liver and heart
  • Gynaecomastia (breast tissue growth)
  • Hair loss
  • Increased aggression and irritability
  • Depression
  • Sinking testes
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney or prostate cancer
  • Tendon/ ligament damage

It is important to note that many steroids do have legitimate, medical uses when they are prescribed and supervised by a medical professional.

Safety

The safest thing you can do is to not do any drugs, m'kay? But let's be realistic, people use drugs. Some people really enjoy it, but for others it can become really problematic either for their health and wellbeing, their relationships, their jobs, their financial security or all of the above. Not only this, but some people can also develop a dependance and this can lead further problems if it isn't addressed early or easily managed.

If you are going to use drugs, it's best to be safe about it. It's your choice to determine what you put in your body, but whatever you do remember to be safe and responsible - with yourself and with others.

We've got some helpful tips to consider.

Safer Injecting

If you are injecting, it’s important to use clean injecting equipment and to avoid sharing needles or other injecting equipment. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted through sharing equipment.  So with that being said it’s important to be aware of where blood can end up. Blood may not only remain on or in needles and syringes but also on other equipment and surfaces such as your skin, on your hands or the top of a table. You can’t always see blood so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it that it isn’t there. Make sure you wash your hands and clean the area where you are preparing to inject. Injecting drug use and the sharing of equipment with others put you at increased risk of:

  • Vein damage and permanent scarring
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death

Living with HIV

All recreational drug use whether it's with a legalised substance or not is likely to interact and maybe even interfere with your ARV's. Those drug interactions are the very thing that can lead to ARV treatment failure. By all means go hard on the weekend - just make sure that you are checking in regularly with an experienced HIV medical practitioner.

Interactions with HIV Medications

We don't know of any negative interactions between steroids and HIV medication. This does not mean that it is safe. Exercise caution when mixing any form of drugs.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

Many of the types of andorgens and hormones prescribed such as Sustanon and Reandron are actually a form of steroid and can often be used by people who are into body building. If you happen to be using extra doses of androgens or homrones for performance enhancing reasons, then please consult with a trusted medical professional as this could be a health risk. 

Treatment

Got a bit of 'roid rage? If your steroid use has begun to have a negative impact on your overall health or your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available to people who use alcohol or other drugs, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, alcohol and other drugs treatment service or local community health service.

Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve your goals with your alcohol or other drug use. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided for people who use alcohol and other drugs, and their family members or support person/s. 

Withdrawal & Rehab

Psychological withdrawal is likely to be more common than physical symptoms with steroids due to the effect they produce on the body. People who stop using steroids after a period of long-term use should seek the advice of a health professional.

Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Steroids should consult a health professional.