Performance enhancing drugs are often used by people who engage in sports or other physical activities such as bodybuilding. However, despite the spread in their use, they can be dangerous, too. If you use them too often, you can even become addicted to these substances.
What Are Performance Enhancing Drugs?
There are two main types of performance enhancing drugs: steroids and nootropics. Steroids are focused on body enhancement while nootropics are mind-focused.
Steroids are very common and somewhat easy to find. Some gyms encourage their use as they enable faster muscle growth. They often mimic the effects of testosterone and make your body grow quicker.
The nootropics are far less common and work with cognitive enhancing. They are mostly used by students looking to improve their performance in academic-related activities. Also, their use tends to be more sporadic than continued in some cases.
While there are obvious benefits in using these substances, it should be remembered that they should not be abused. Not only the abuse itself might be an issue, though. Some of these drugs are not properly regulated and can be obtained in illegal ways. In these cases, they may contain harmful properties as well since they have not passed control measures.
Can You Get Addicted to Performance Enhancing Drugs?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an “undetermined percentage” of the users can suffer from an addiction. Addiction is defined by the need to keep using the substance and by requiring higher dosages in order to see its effects taking place. In most cases, this drives the side effects up as well and can cause several health issues.
What Are The Side Effects Of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs?
There are several side effects which are directly linked to the use of these drugs. They are mostly divided between the drugs that act on the body and the ones that act on the mind.
Side Effects of Steroids
- Breast growth in men: some of the men who used anabolic steroids for a long time were reported to see an abnormal increase in their breast size.
- High blood pressure: the continued use of steroids affects the blood pressure. In some cases, it can make the amount of fat present in the blood go up, too.
- Extreme tolerance to steroids: the more someone uses the steroid, the less effect it will have. This often leads to exaggerations in the dosage that cause secondary issues.
- Irritability and aggressiveness: people using these drugs are more likely to be aggressive. The behavior, which is more prominent in men, can also affect women.
- Heart diseases: the mood swings combined with blood issues can lead someone to develop heart problems if the steroids are being taken for too long. The worst cases can be fatal, especially for people who already had heart issues before.
- Doping ban: several of these drugs are prohibited in professional sports. Because of this, several competitions ban athletes for doping.
Side Effects of Nootropics
- Anxiety: the generalized feeling of anxiety is one of the most common side effects of using nootropics. This problem can also get worse in the long term.
- Increased alertness, insomnia and reduced fatigue: nootropics are generally used to let someone stay awake and attentive. Because of this, it may become harder to simply “shut down” and rest after prolonged use. The person will try to rest but the brain won’t let it do it.
- Dizziness, nausea and headaches: as the drug directly affects the mind, some people will suffer from these symptoms, which may come together or one at a time.
- Paranoia: some people who use these drugs for a long time tend to become paranoid with the idea that people around them are going to harm them in some way.
- Heart diseases and increased blood pressure: similar to steroids. This drug also messes up with the blood and can cause life-threatening issues.
Can Performance Enhancing Drugs Cause Withdrawal Effects?
Unfortunately, all kinds of addictive drugs are able to cause withdrawal effects on the user. As soon as the use is discontinued, the effects tend to appear shortly. Drugs focused on enhancing performance are not any different in this regard.
Steroids and other physically enhancing drugs can cause loss of appetite, a reduced sex drive, restlessness, fatigue, insomnia and craving when they are stopped. In several cases, there is also a loss of muscle mass, as well as the appearance of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Cognitive enhancing drugs are likely to cause withdrawal effects which will be similar to the ones caused by opioids such as heroin or cocaine. They can include hallucinations, depression, anxiety, tremors, nausea and insomnia. The craving is also present during this phase.
How To Treat The Addiction to Performance Enhancing Drugs?
Treating the addiction to performance enhancing drugs is not really so different than treating other kinds of addiction. The best way to do it is by looking for a specialized treatment program.
There are several types of programs and they generally cater to the different needs of different patients. While some are longer and restrict the patient to a hospital or facility, others can be done at home or have a shorter duration. The best idea is to choose the one that fits your needs best.
These programs have professionals who are equipped to deal with all your needs and can help with the issue. They generally consist of a detoxing process in which you are going to clean your body from the drug, followed by therapy and care.
It is important to follow all the treatment and to have psychological help in order to deal with the aftermath of stopping. The addictive potential of the drug can often lead to rebounds.
Generally, treatment programs can last for a few weeks and their goal is to overcome the withdrawal process and learn how to deal with the cravings for the substance. After that, the person can start living a more fulfilling life.