Even though anabolic steroids do not cause the same high as other drugs, they can lead to addiction. Studies have shown that animals will self-administer steroids when they have the chance, just as they do with other addictive drugs. People may continue to abuse steroids despite physical problems, high costs to buy the drugs, and negative effects on their relationships. These behaviors reflect steroids' addictive potential. Research has further found that some steroid users turn to other drugs, such as opioids, to reduce sleep problems and irritability caused by steroids.
Crosland explains that while the substances aren't physically addictive, "psychologically, they can be difficult to walk away from". He blames a lazy social attitude for the boom among young men. "Everybody wants a magic pill. People don’t want to work hard, they want to take something that will fulfil their dreams. Steroids will give the results that are wanted if all other fitness considerations are in place, but the problem with this group is that everything else isn’t in place. The onus is on the drug use, not the training or the diet."
Q: Are there other performance-enhancers being taken by teen athletes to make them more competitive?
A: Many start with protein powders such as creatine. It's a commonly used nutritional supplement, although there is no long-term data on how harmful it is to the kidneys. Teens may also use the hormone androstendione, which turns into testosterone in the body. These supplements may not be as dangerous as steroids, but it’s a slippery slope for young people to start to take them to play better or look better. They often move onto steroids or other types of drugs such as stimulants or diuretics.