Basic Facts About Anabolic Steroids

Dumbbell and anabolic steroids on a wooden floor

Peter Dazeley Collection / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, which promote the growth of skeletal muscle and increase lean body mass.

Street Names for Anabolic Steroids

Arnolds, Gym Candy, Pumpers, Roids, Stackers, Weight Trainers, Gear, Juice

What Are Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced versions of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. While they may be legally prescribed, illicit use far exceeds legitimate use.

What Do They Look Like?

Steroids come in tablets or liquid form.

How Are They Taken?

Anabolic steroids are taken orally or injected. Many users use them in what is called 'cycling'. Users take them in cycles of weeks and months instead of continuous use. They frequently use several different types of steroids in order to maximize the good benefits of a specific steroid and lessening the more negative effects. This form of abuse is known as "stacking."

Who Uses Steroids?

Bodybuilders and athletes often use steroids to boost their competitive advantage and improve their physical appearance, but anyone can potentially use them.

What Are the Effects of Steroids?

Reports indicate that use of anabolic steroids increases lean muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Those who use steroids often talk about feeling good about themselves and invincible while using steroids. The positive feelings can soon turn to anger, rage, paranoia, and violence.

What Are the Hazards of Using Steroids?

Steroids often make users feel edgy, moody, aggressive and paranoid. Other short-term hazards include:

  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Acne
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle tightness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tendon problems

Many problems can arise from long-term use. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Eating disorder
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Stunted growth
  • Episodes of rage
  • Delusions
  • Violent behavior
  • HIV


Adolescents may experience stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes which is irreversible.


Women often experience a "masculinization" effect when using steroids. They may have an increase in facial hair, enlarged clitoris, deepened voice and changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle.


Men may experience a "feminization" effect when using steroids. They can experience infertility, shrinking testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, baldness and development of breasts.

Are Steroids Addictive?

Steroid users often experience withdrawal characteristics related to addiction when they stop using steroids, including severe cravings, depression, and sleeping disorders.

Was this page helpful?
0 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.