Anabolic steroids are medications made in labs and are related to testosterone (the male sex hormone). Doctors use anabolic steroids to treat hormone problems in men, muscle loss from some diseases, and other health issues.
Some bodybuilders and athletes have misused anabolic steroids to build muscles and improve their athletic performance—often taking doses much higher than would be prescribed for a medical condition. Some people who misuse steroids take pills; others use needles to inject steroids into their muscles or apply them to the skin as a gel or cream.
What are the effects of misusing anabolic steroids? Take the quiz below to find out. Answers are after the questions.
1. Misusing anabolic steroids for a long time can lead to which of the following experiences?
- Aggressive behavior and extreme mood swings
- Feeling paranoid (like someone or something is out to get you)
- Delusions (believing something that is not true)
- All of the above
2. True or false: Males who misuse anabolic steroids might experience problems like developing breasts, a higher risk for prostate cancer, and low sperm count.
3. Females who misuse anabolic steroids could experience problems like:
- Voice deepening (getting lower)
- Growth of facial hair
- Male-pattern baldness
- All of the above
4. True or false: A person cannot become addicted to anabolic steroids.
1. D. All of the above. Steroids affect a part of the brain called the limbic system, which controls mood. So, misusing them can lead to all of these problems, plus others, including jealousy and feeling invincible (like nothing can hurt you).
2. True. Males can have these and other health problems if they misuse steroids.
3. D. All of the above. Females can have all these and other health problems if they misuse steroids. Plus, a person who misuses steroids can develop severe acne, high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, heart attack, or stroke (even in young people), and more.
4. False. Some users keep using steroids despite bad effects on their bodies and lives. Steroids do not cause the same effects in the brain’s reward system as other drugs (such as the high), but as with other drugs, steroid users can experience dependence on steroids and withdrawal symptoms if they stop using them, making it difficult to quit.
Learn more on our Drug Facts page about anabolic steroids.