Effects of Steroid Abuse on the Immune System

Abusing steroids has many effects on a user, from the risk of steroid addiction and steroid overdose to the effects it has on a user’s career and relationships.

Abusing anabolic steroids either for the high or to build muscle will weaken your immune system, leading to more sickness and an increased risk of serious health problems. There is no way to make up for the effect that steroids can have unless you stop abusing the drugs.

Steroid Basics

There are essentially two types of steroids: anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. Anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are associated with testosterone, the male sex hormone. When used medically, these drugs help to rebuild tissues that have become weak after illness or injury.

Some situations where anabolic steroid treatment might be use include:

  • To help patients gain weight after an illness or injury, during a continuing infection, or when patients fail to gain or maintain normal weight because of medical reasons.
  • To treat certain kinds of anemia.
  • To treat certain kinds of breast cancer in some women.
  • To treat hereditary angioedema, which causes swelling of the face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs.1

Corticosteroids are used to fight inflammation in the body. They reduce swelling, itching, redness and other allergic reactions. Corticosteroids are also used to treat chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin problems and asthma, or for the short-term treatment of bronchitis or other upper respiratory conditions.2

Both types of steroids can cause significant side effects. The most common side effects of corticosteroids include:

    • Increased appetite
    • Indigestion
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nervousness or restlessness

The most common side effects of anabolic steroids include:

  • Severe acne, oily skin and hair
  • Hair loss
  • Liver disease, such as liver tumors and cysts
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke
  • Altered mood, irritability, increased aggression, depression or suicidal tendencies
  • Alterations in cholesterol and other blood lipids
  • High blood pressure
  • Gynecomastia (abnormal development of mammary glands in men causing breast enlargement)
  • Shrinking of testicles
  • Azoospermia (absence of sperm in semen)
  • Menstrual irregularities in women
  • Infertility
  • Excess facial or body hair (hirsutism), deeper voice in women
  • Stunted growth and height in teens
  • Risk of viral or bacterial infections due to unsterile injections3

Both types of steroids also have an impact on the body’s immune system and can reduce your ability to fight infection.

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Steroid Abuse and Illness

If you become sick more often when you are abusing steroids, there may be a link between your steroid abuse and your physical well-being. The more you abuse steroids, the more compromised your immune system can become.

Your immune system is your body’s defense against illness, and when you abuse steroids your body cannot fight illness at full strength. Because your defenses are down, you can become sick more often and it may take you longer to heal. Vitamins and supplements will not help you ward off illnesses that are a result of your steroid abuse. It’s only when steroids are stopped completely that the immune has a chance to return to normal.

Treatment for Steroid Abuse

If you are addicted to steroids, you can seek professional addiction treatment that will help you end your abuse, and in turn, strengthen your immune system.

Addiction treatment for steroid abuse begins with medically-supervised detox. Detox give the body the chance to rid itself of the toxins of the drug in a safe and supervised manner. Detox is then followed by intensive therapy and treatment that will give you or your loved one the tools needed to recover from the addiction. Using the techniques learned during treatment, continuing with counseling and becoming part of a support group can help you avoid relapse.

Finding Help for Steroid Addiction

If you are struggling with steroid addiction professional treatment can help you end your steroid abuse for good. Call our toll-free helpline today at 844-675-1221 and find out how steroid addiction treatment will improve your life. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about addiction or treatment. You are not alone. Call us now.


Sources

“Anabolic Steroid (Oral Route, Parenteral Route) Description and Brand Names.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Mar. 2017.

“Corticosteroid (Oral Route, Parenteral Route) Description and Brand Names.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Mar. 2017.

“Anabolic Steroids – Abuse, Side Effects and Safety.” Drugs.com. Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.

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