Know the facts and connect with support to help you address known or suspected substance use with your child.

    Anabolic androgenic steroids are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. There are very few legitimate medical uses of anabolic androgenic steroids, including treatment of severe testosterone deficiency and certain kinds of anemia. Body builders, long-distance runners, cyclists and other athletes who may use these substances illegally claim that anabolic steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance.[1]

    Steroids can come in tablet, capsule or liquid form, as well as gels, creams and patches. They are taken orally, applied to the skin or injected. Athletes and other people who misuse steroids typically take them in cycles of weeks or months (called “cycling”), rather than continuously. Cycling involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. In addition, people misusing steroids frequently combine several different types to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing negative effects, a process known as stacking.[2]

    Steroids have a reputation for increasing lean muscle mass, strength, and the ability to train longer and harder.

    Understand the risks

    The minor side effects of steroid use include acne, oily skin, excess hair growth, and deepening of the voice. The major side effects include an increased risk of cancer, increased risk of heart and liver disease, jaundice, fluid retention, reduction in HDL-C (“good cholesterol”), high blood pressure and changes in blood clotting.

    Side effects specific to men can include testicular atrophy (the shrinking of the testicles), reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, and the development of breasts. For women, side effects can include enlargement of the clitoris, changes in the body contour, growth of facial hair, disruption of the menstrual cycle, deepened voice.

    An increase in androgenic (male) hormones may also lead to aggressive behavior. Research also indicates that people who use steroids often suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

    Teens who misuse steroids are at a significant risk of suffering irreversible side effects, including stunted growth, accelerated puberty changes and abnormal sexual development.[2]

    Identify & address use

    Signs of use include acne, deepening of the voice, excess hair growth and disruption of menstrual cycle (in females). If you’re concerned your child may be misusing steroids or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior more effectively.

    Spot the Signs of Teen or Young Adult Substance Use

    A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.
    Learn more

    What Do I Do if My Child is Using Drugs?

    It can be scary if your child is using drugs or alcohol, and it's important to confront it. We're here to give you tips and strategies on how to do it.

    Table of common steroids

    Generic Drug Composition Brand Name
    Oxandrolone Oxandrin
    Methyltestosterone Testred, Android, Methitest
    Oxymetholone Anadrol
    Fluoxymesterone Androxy, Halotestin

    Last Updated

    June 2020

    [1]“Steroids.” DEA, www.dea.gov/factsheets/steroids.
    [2]“Get Smart About Drugs.” Find Help | Get Smart About Drugs, www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/drugs/steroids.

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