Steroids are not addictive despite many people believing otherwise. This means that they do not cause withdrawal symptoms in the same way that some other substances might do. If you use Anadrol or Winstrol to build muscle and burn fat, you can stop instantly and you won’t experience any headaches or other issues.
At the same time though, there are some ways in which you can liken the post-effects of steroids to withdrawal symptoms. Read on then and we’ll look at everything you need to know before deciding to use performance enhancing drugs.
What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
The first thing to recognize is what withdrawal symptoms are to begin with.
Essentially, withdrawal symptoms are caused by changes in brain chemistry that result from the use of psychoactive substances. We can describe this by imagining how something like benzodiazepines work. These are drugs that are used to treat anxiety and which work by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. This is an ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’ that makes the brain less active and thereby can help to reduce anxiety and fear.
At the same time though, the use of benzodiazepines encourages the brain to reduce the number of GABA receptors and to produce less GABA itself. This then means that when the user stops using the drugs, they can actually have far lesser effects of the GABA. They need to keep using benzodiazepines now just to feel ‘normal’ and need even more if they’re going to get the full therapeutic benefits.
If a patient stops using benzos ‘cold turkey’, they then may experience headaches, sweating, anxiety and shaking among other issues.
How Steroids Leave Lasting Effects
Steroids do not cause any of these side effects however as they do not act on the brain. Thus they will not alter the production of neurotransmitters and won’t lead to headaches, low moods or cravings.
There is one exception to this which is Clenbuterol. Among other things, Clenbuterol works as a beta blocker to exhibit stimulant effects. This theoretically could cause withdrawal symptoms but the substance is not technically regarded as a steroid – if you are using an anabolic steroid you don’t need to worry about withdrawal symptoms.
That said though, steroids affect the anabolic hormones in just the same way that antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications affect the neurotransmitters. Therefore, stopping using steroids can leave the body producing limited amounts of testosterone. This can in turn lead to depression, to impotence and to weight gain.
To prevent this, bodybuilders should use PCT or ‘Post Cycle Therapy’. However, low T is still always a risk and in some cases might even be permanent. Some ex-bodybuilders and ex-athletes find themselves permanently on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for the rest of their lives.
It’s also important to recognize that steroids can be ‘psychologically’ addictive. That is to say, that once you’ve had a taste of the increased muscle mass, weight loss, confidence, drive and energy that comes from steroids, it’s very hard to let it go.
Be very careful when deciding whether or not to use steroids. Chances are this is going to be a decision with life-long implications!