Steroids are known for their effects on the body, but their impact on mental health can be just as significant. Steroid use can have multiple side effects on the mind in addition to its physical effects. These side effects can have a deep and negative impact upon family relationships. It can even put family members at risk for physical harm.
However family relationships are never damaged beyond repair. Help is available for steroid users and their loved ones. Getting this help begins with understanding these drugs and how they shape personal, mental and family health.
Steroids are synthesized forms of the male sex hormone testosterone. Steroids were originally designed for patients in need of growth hormone treatment. Now they are frequently obtained illegally and used for their primary physical effects. Steroids are taken to build muscle mass and to enhance athletic ability. This alone doesn’t seem like it would impact mental health or family stability, but like any drug, desired effects come with unwanted side effects.
Steroids are used to change a person’s body. But they also change how a person feels, thinks, talks and acts. They can contribute to depression, aggression and physical health problems. These and more impact a person’s mental and physical health and they change how families interact.
Regular steroid use can contribute to depression. Steroid withdrawal can worsen depression symptoms and contribute to suicidal thoughts or even actions. Psychology Today reports: “The behaviors and mood of a depressed person affect the whole family. There’s the irritability, which sets off conflicts and derails family dynamics. The negative thought patterns, which become a prism of pessimism for everyone.
The withdrawal that literally disrupts relationships and breeds wholesale feelings of rejection. There are major responsibilities that get displaced. There is a general burden of stress.”1 No matter the cause of depression, it can leave families unhappy, hurt and struggling. When steroids are the cause of that depression, addiction treatment and therapy can help everyone start to heal.
Steroid-induced aggression is probably one of the most well-known side effects of steroid use. Everyone has heard of “roid rage.” Reuters published a study that found, “Men who used anabolic steroids either in the past year or at any time in their lives were about twice as likely to have committed at least one violent act in the past year than men who never used them.”2
Steroids may improve muscle mass or athletic performance, but they cause as many negative physical health effects as desired ones. In males steroid abuse can diminish sex drive. A common side effect of steroid abuse in males is erectile dysfunction. This makes it difficult to have a normal, healthy sexual relationship. Additionally steroids can cause liver damage, heart damage and other health concerns. These leave families stressed, worried and at risk of losing a loved one — the greatest harm any drug can do to a family.
The effects of steroid abuse have the potential to carry over into a person’s finances. This impacts the family as a whole. Aggression, depression and other changes in behavior can impact someone’s professional life and career. The psychological and behavioral side effects of steroid abuse may cost a person his or her job. Medical bills or legal bills may start to add up.
The drugs themselves are expensive, and individuals may find they are prioritizing steroids over groceries, utilities, rent or simpler, healthier pleasures in life. Family members may have to work longer hours, worry more and go without because of a loved one’s steroid abuse.
If you or a family member is using steroids, there is help. Consider speaking with a treatment program and interventionist to protect the health and wellbeing of your family. Interventions can be an effective way to encourage a loved one to enter addiction treatment and put an end to steroid use. An intervention involves the user, family, close friends and a professional interventionist.
They aren’t the dramatic events you see on TV. Interventions are a chance for loved ones to share how steroid abuse has affected each on a personal level and within the family. They help a person who uses steroids find the motivation and support to enter treatment as soon as possible. This treatment offers the individual and family support needed for a safe, healthy and drug-free home life.
1 Marano, Hara. “Depression: A Family Matter.” Psychology Today. 9 Jun. 2016.
2 Dunham, Will. “Steroid Users Seen Twice as Prone to Violence.” Reuters. 15 Oct. 2008.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness