Professional as well as non-professional athletes have long been using a variety of chemical and biological agents to enhance the strength and performance outcomes in sports related activities. The history of documented use dates back to 19th century. Today, there are several potent yet safer options available. Depending upon physiological and biochemical factors, different drugs exert different effects in the body.
Use of anabolic steroids provides a short time performance enhancement effect, but its regular use is known to result in physical and psychological dependence. It is imperative to mention that steroid abuse can have potentially deleterious effects on health and may culminate in fatal consequences.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Steroids?
A significant gain in the muscle mass is observed when a person starts steroid use. This happens because steroids have water retention properties which help in storing the water in the tissues, resulting in temporary or transient increase in cell size.
- When a person stops taking steroids all of a sudden, a decrease in body mass and performance is usually observed almost immediately. This loss in weight is due to release of retained water in the body as discussed above.
- A decline in performance is also observed which can be easily overcome by maintaining a healthy diet, doing regular performance enhancing workouts and most importantly by staying patient, as all of this can take time according to level of dependence.
What happens when you stop taking steroids? Some of the key signs and symptoms that are reported almost immediately as part of the steroid withdrawal syndrome are:
- Generalized weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss (which varies from mild to significant)
- Gastrointestinal upset including vomiting, nausea and diarrhea leading to electrolyte imbalance in body
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood glucose sugar levels
- Nervous system problems including fainting and dizziness
- Pain in muscles
- Increase in calcium levels
For better understanding, please refer to this video:
How to Get Off Steroids
Mind withdrawal symptoms
It must be noticed that steroids, if stopped suddenly, can produces serious withdrawal symptoms which can vary from physical to psychological effects, thereby disturbing the quality of life by interfering with daily life activities. The most appropriate way to eliminate steroids is tapering off its dose according to the recommendations/suggestion proposed by your physician.
Let your body regain ability
How to get off steroids? Tapering off dose is recommended in case of steroids because steroids are the chemicals which are also inherently produced in the body of every individual. However, in certain conditions (such as when a person starts taking steroids from external sources) the body’s ability to produce natural steroids is reduced or compromised as part of the feedback regulation system. Concurrently, if a person suddenly stops taking steroids from the exogenous sources, then the body’s steroidal stores are already depleted and this depletion of steroids can present as life-threatening steroids withdrawal symptoms.
For this reason the dose is recommended to be decreased gradually so that the body will start producing its natural steroids in the body.
Things to Keep in Mind
Don’t go for steroids just because others are using it
According to latest surveys, it has been proved that the overall prevalence of steroid use in the young population is approximately 4.6 - 7.7% (data reflects the statistics collected from the students of grade ninth to grade twelfth). The key determinant that explains this high prevalence in young population is peer pressure or peer influence. Experts suggests that when a young adolescent/student observe his friend using steroids, he feels more inclined to try it; considering it as a fashion statement or something that is associated with being cool or popular among his peers.
Quality of use
It is important to keep in mind that the steroid formulation an individual is consuming may not be a pure compound or natural ingredient. Different products or analogues of steroids are available at cheap prices under the same umbrella term of steroids. Needless to say that these agents are highly contaminated with hazardous chemicals. This must also be kept in mind that the use of steroids is illegal and is not supported by the state or federal laws in most parts of the world (especially within United States).
Develop a recovery plan
If a person is a regular steroid user and now wants to get over it, developing and planning a recovery plan is highly appreciated. Joining in support groups, maintaining healthy diet, going for workouts can serve as motivating factors for tapering off steroids. In some cases professional’s advice is also recommended.
Individuals who are addicted or habituated to steroids use must consider the cost they are spending over their physical and psychological dependence caused by their steroidal use. These individuals can save the cost (financial as well as physical) by getting rid of steroids.
Physical health risks
Before opting for any type of steroid use, it is highly recommended to explore and research the potential risk of harmful effects over the bodily systems such as steroidal use can lead to kidney and liver damage, stroke, high propensity to develop cardio-respiratory disturbances (such as hypertension, etc.). Additionally, muscle and vein injuries can also take place if steroids are injected using a needle.