Risks of Using Steroids and Alcohol – Steroids and alcohol can be a dangerous combination that can affect vital systems in the body, including the liver, kidneys, heart, immune system, gastrointestinal system, and can even result in mental health problems.
Alcohol Use Statistics
The use of alcohol is widespread among adults. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2015) reported that among persons aged 18 and older, 86.4% had reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life.
Alcohol abuse can quickly lead to addiction and pose a danger to the individual and other people. An estimated 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults and 623,000 children aged 12-17 suffer from an alcohol use disorder.
Steroid Use Statistics
Anabolic steroids are drugs that stimulate the hormone testosterone and are sometimes prescribed to help patients with certain kinds of anemia or men who don’t produce enough testosterone on their own. Recreationally, they are used to increase muscle mass and bolster athletic performance. Approximately 3,000,000 people use anabolic steroids in America each year.
Those who abuse anabolic steroids recreationally may use quantities up to 100 times higher than normal dosage amounts. Most professional sports organizations prohibit the use of anabolic steroids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the largest single group of anabolic steroids users is male weightlifters.
Why Do People Combine Alcohol and Steroids?
Some people use alcohol and steroids without knowing the potential health risks. They may take a prescribed steroid medication for a health problem, and perhaps drink occasionally without considering the possibility of side effects. However, whether deliberate or accidental, regularly drinking alcohol while taking steroid medications for any reason can increase the risk of adverse health consequences.
Some people who use anabolic steroids may suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or have a distorted perception of their body and size. In general, however, people who abuse steroids are seeking physical results, such as increased muscle mass, improved athletic performance, and reduced body fat. Many people on steroids may shun alcohol due to its high-calorie content and ability to slow metabolism, but others with BDD or other mental health issues may turn to alcohol as a means to self-medicate.
If a person begins combining steroids and alcohol as a way to numb the adverse emotional effects of the steroids, they are doing more harm than good. Some of the potential side effects of using steroids by themselves can include aggressive mood swings, emotional instability and volatility, hallucinations, and paranoia. These symptoms can all be exacerbated when alcohol is thrown into the mix.
Potential Side Effects
The prolonged use of steroids and alcohol can compound the risk for certain side effects and health complications. On their own, both alcohol and anabolic steroid abuse can have an adverse impact on a person’s health and well-being.
Steroid Side Effects
Common anabolic steroid side effects include the following:
- Fluid retention
- Pain during urination
- Hair loss or growth
- Changes in libido
- Cardiovascular problems
- Tendon rupture
- Stunted growth in children
- Testicle shrinkage
- Low sperm count or sterility
- Male breast growth
- Deeper voice for women
- Breast shrinkage
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Mood disorders
- Psychological dependence
Possible Combined Side Effects
In addition to the aforementioned steroid side effects, combining steroids and alcohol increases a person’s risk of:
- Liver damage
- Cardiovascular problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Psychological disorder
Serious Health Dangers
The most significant risk a person faces when they use steroids and alcohol is a high level of liver toxicity. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA long-term steroid abuse can result in damage to the liver and kidneys—two vital organs that are commonly known to suffer damage when an individual drinks alcohol excessively. Thus, mixing steroids and alcohol can overwhelm the liver ever quicker, leading to cirrhosis or liver failure.
Other physical dangers of mixing these two substances include:
- Chest pain
- Allergic reactions
Finally, there are also a number of psychological side effects that have been associated with the combined use of steroids and alcohol. Prolonged steroid use can cause mental instability, mania, and even psychosis. Even short-term steroid use can make a person’s mood unpredictable, and can precipitate the infamous “roid rage.” When this volatile mindset combines with the lowered inhibitions of an intoxicated person, the potential for dangerous or violent behavior is much more likely.
Treatment for Abuse of Steroids and Alcohol
Discontinuing the use of anabolic steroids is the first step to preventing many of the unwanted and hazardous side effects of these substances. If alcohol is used in combination with steroids, however, it is recommended that individuals seek treatment at a specialized facility such as Recovery in Tune.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction and steroid abuse, we can help. Comprehensive treatment, including psychotherapy and counseling, is available for these disorders.
Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives to learn more about our treatment options!