Corticosteroids are steroids that are prescribed to a user by their doctor and can often be found as creams that are used to soothe pain and inflammation.

An anabolic steroid, on the other hand, is a manufactured testosterone that is prescribed to patients to help treat muscle loss, cancer, and hormone deficiencies. As anabolic steroids act like testosterone in a user's body, the steroid helps to increase protein production in the body which accelerates muscle growth, reduce body fat, and improve the body’s overall look.

Anabolic steroids can be taken in three ways:

  • Orally
  • Applied directly to the skin
  • Injected into the bloodstream

A study from the National Institute of Health shows that around 32% of anabolic steroid users will develop a dependency. This is called a steroid use disorder. A steroid use disorder can develop when users are struggling with underlying psychological issues such as low self-esteem or body dysmorphia.

A steroid addiction does not function in the same way as an opioid or stimulant addiction but can remain equally as addictive due to the effects the drug can have on a user's physical appearance and self-esteem. Over time, someone with a steroid use disorder can develop a tolerance for the drug meaning a higher dose of the drug is needed each use to achieve the same effect and subsequently letting the addiction grow.

Those with a steroid addiction are often young men who abuse the drug because of poor body image and low self-esteem. There are, however, several differing factors that can lead someone to developing a steroid use disorder.


Steroid addicts are more likely to have family who put a focus on their child's weight and appearance, have a history of poor mental health and may have a history of physical or sexual abuse.

Steroid addiction can also be linked to those who suffer with muscle dysmorphia - a condition that causes sufferers to believe their muscle growth is unsatisfactory when in reality they are large and strong.

Typically, those who suffer with a steroid use disorder are male weightlifters and bodybuilders in their 20s and 30s.

Steroids do not produce the same intoxicating highs as other addictive drugs. Instead, steroids are a performance-based drug and steroid users abuse the drug in ways other than its intended use in order to achieve their desired physical results.

Continued steroid abuse ultimately results in a dependency for the drug and creates a steroid use disorder. Steroid addicts differ from the typical drug user: a steroid addict is not addicted to the drug itself, instead they are addicted to the physical results the drug can achieve.