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Steroids and Cocaine

steroids and cocaine

Steroids and Cocaine, Dangers, Effects, Addiction, Signs of Abuse, Detox & Rehab Treatment

Mixing Steroids and Cocaine: What Are the Risks?

Steroids are substances that are naturally produced in the body or artificially manufactured. There are two different types of naturally occurring steroids: anabolic and catabolic.

Anabolic steroids are derived from male hormones and help to build bone tissue, muscle tissue, and other tissues in the body. Catabolic steroids, or glucocorticoids, are produced as a response to stress, and they break down and metabolize substances in the body. Examples of artificially created catabolic steroids include hydrocortisone and prednisone.

These steroids are not abused as often as anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids also have medicinal purposes and can assist individuals who have issues with tissue damage due to burn injuries, weight loss due to intestinal disorders, or diseases like HIV. They can also help those who have lost muscle mass as a result of chemotherapy to build tissue and gain weight. These drugs can be taken in pill form or injected. Some of the commonly known anabolic steroids include:

steroids and cocaine
Both anabolic steroids and cocaine are drugs of abuse. Most anabolic steroids are classified by the DEA as Schedule III controlled substances, whereas cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.
  • Dianabol (methandrostenolone)
  • Winstrol (stanozolol)
  • Durabolin (nandrolone phenylpropionate)
  • Deca-Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate)
  • Depo-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate)

The central nervous stimulant cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a well-known drug of abuse that is manufactured from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine does have some medicinal uses in the United States but is more familiar as a drug of abuse. It is abused in a number of different ways, such as via injection, snorting it (e.g., powder cocaine), and smoking it (e.g., crack cocaine).

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic (man-made) versions of testosterone. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It is needed to develop and maintain male sex characteristics, such as facial hair, deep voice, and muscle growth. Women do have some testosterone in their bodies but in much smaller amounts.

Cocaine and Anabolic Steroids

Both anabolic steroids and cocaine are drugs of abuse. Most anabolic steroids are classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule III controlled substances, whereas cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This classification indicates that steroids are considered to have more appropriate medicinal uses and are less prone to abuse than cocaine; however, both drugs have a significant potential for abuse and for the development of physical or psychological dependence.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it is estimated that in 2015 approximately 1.9 million people over the age of 12 were users of cocaine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2015 approximately 3.5 percent of individuals in high school reported using anabolic steroids without having a prescription for them, which represents an estimate of about 500,000 individuals. The United States Justice Department estimates that a little over 1 million adults over the age of 18 use anabolic steroids without a prescription. Individuals who misuse or abuse anabolic steroids are likely to be male.

People abuse cocaine to experience the stimulant and psychoactive effects of the drug. In contrast, abuse of anabolic steroids is typically associated with individuals who engage in some form of an athletic endeavor, such as bodybuilding or other sports, who are trying to improve their performance and/or increase their muscle mass while reducing their body fat content.

Mixing Cocaine and Anabolic Steroids

There appears to be little reliable data on the rates of co-occurring cocaine and anabolic steroid use and abuse. However, given that both drugs are abused by similar demographic groups, it can be assumed that the situation does occur to some extent. Information taken from a research article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology as well as the three-volume book set The Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse indicates that interactions as a result of this combination can include:

  • An enhancement of the effects of either drug
  • An enhancement of the side effects of either drug
  • The increased potential to overdose on either drug, but particularly on cocaine is most likely related to the psychological and cognitive issues that can occur when these drugs are combined
  • The potential to develop idiosyncratic reactions as a result of mixing these two drugs
  • Serious effects on several different organ systems
  • Serious neurological or psychological complications as a result of mixing these drugs
steroids and cocaine
There appears to be little reliable data on the rates of co-occurring cocaine and anabolic steroid use and abuse.

Individuals who use anabolic steroids in an attempt to improve their athletic performance and gain muscle mass are actually decreasing their potential to achieve these desired effects when they use anabolic steroids in conjunction with cocaine. Most often, individuals mix different drugs to enhance their euphoric and other psychoactive effects. However, it does not appear to be a reasonable assumption that anabolic steroid use would increase the euphoria associated with cocaine use.

Since many of the psychoactive effects associated with steroid abuse are not normally considered to be desirable (e.g., aggressiveness, hostility, etc.) or the main reason individuals abuse these drugs, the repeated practice of mixing cocaine and anabolic steroids would be puzzling because the main reason that individuals mix drugs of abuse is to enhance the euphoric effects of one or both drugs. One would suspect that any person that frequently mixes these two substances has some other serious mental health disorder, such as a personality disorder, developmental disorder, psychotic disorder, neurocognitive disorder, or bipolar disorder.

In particular, the potentially harmful effects associated with mixing these drugs could include:

  • A rapid and potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure
  • Significant cardiovascular damage, with an increased risk of both acute heart damage and long-term issues leading to heart damage
  • A significant increase in the risk to have a heart attack or stroke
  • An increased potential to become overheated or dehydrated
  • Damage to the liver
  • Significant damage to the kidneys
  • Increased risk of developing blood-borne diseases as a result of needle sharing (e.g., hepatitis, HIV)
  • Sexual dysfunction in men and menstrual issues in women
  • The development of masculine-like features in women, such as a low speaking voice, increased hair growth on the face, etc.
  • An increased risk to develop cancer in numerous organ systems
  • Increased potential for psychological reactions, particularly issues with hostility, hallucinations, manic-like behaviors, delusional behaviors (most likely, delusions of being invulnerable, which can lead to poor decision-making), and other issues that can lead to accidents or impulsive behaviors
  • Issues with depression, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, lethargy, increased appetite, irritability, etc., when the individual stops using cocaine and/or the steroid.
  • Issues with apathy and depression in many individuals who combine these drugs frequently
  • Significant neurological issues can include the development of seizures (the risk for this is increased if an individual abuses other drugs in conjunction with cocaine, such as alcohol) and brain damage to areas of the brain that have to do with movement, decision-making, judgment, attention, and memory

Because a large number of people who use anabolic steroids are adolescents and still growing, it can result in issues with growth and development. Using the drug in combination with cocaine can exacerbate this issue.

While the expected symptoms that are associated with discontinuing either of these drugs are not normally considered to be potentially serious or fatal, when an individual uses these drugs in conjunction and later stops using one or both of them, it is difficult to predict how any withdrawal symptoms will present.

Certainly, individuals who have pre-existing psychological problems or emotional issues may become very distraught and more vulnerable to accidents or poor judgment that could lead to potential suicidal behaviors. In addition, when individuals begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, they often become desperate to again use their drugs of choice in order to reduce their distress. This can lead to a number of issues with judgment, poor decision-making, and impulsive behaviors.

Cocaine Addiction

Normally when we think of drug abuse, the immediate thing that comes to mind is when someone takes drugs every day, several times. But with Cocaine Addiction, signs can be ambiguous. You do not have to be taking cocaine, or crack cocaine, every day to be addicted to it. A sign of addiction is that you’ve tried to cut down or stop but are unable to. Any use of cocaine is considered abuse because it is an illegal substance.

Even when Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, one of its main issues is that it may be hard to recognize an addiction to it. For example, craving cocaine, even if the use or need appears every few days, and ignoring the consequences that come with it are signs of an addiction

The psychological addiction is often the hardest part to overcome, although there are undeniable physical symptoms of addiction as well. Someone who uses cocaine frequently will develop a dependence on it, meaning they need to have it in order to feel normal. Once dependence has developed, a tolerance will develop and withdrawal symptoms will occur when stopping use. Once someone becomes addicted to cocaine, it can be very hard to stop. This is because cocaine abnormally increases the level of dopamine in the brain, eventually reprogramming the brain reward system.

Is there a specific time frame that determines if you are going to become addicted to cocaine or not? How long does it take? It can depend on certain factors such as how often you use cocaine and how much of the drug you use on each occasion. Getting addicted to cocaine depends on various factors but most people who use the drug heavily become dependent within a few weeks of regular abuse.

Various factors can increase your likelihood of experiencing substance misuse issues like medical history, genetics, mental health, environment, and method of use.

Cocaine Detox Program

Unlike some drugs, such as opioids, there are no FDA-approved medications that specifically treat cocaine withdrawal. However, Cocaine Detox uses medications that may help individuals overcome cocaine addiction and work through withdrawal symptoms.

A study suggested that propranolol might have a beneficial, stabilizing effect for those suffering from cocaine withdrawal. This beta-blocker has been approved to treat hypertension and angina, and it is often prescribed to treat anxiety and related psychological problems.

One of the major concerns with cocaine withdrawal is the risk of a person developing serious anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. If anxiety and restlessness are reduced, other symptoms of withdrawal may be easier to manage and the entire withdrawal experience will be less unpleasant.

Other medications to treat depression and anxiety could be useful for people undergoing cocaine withdrawal, as they could stabilize their moods and reduce depression. They could be particularly helpful for people whose withdrawal symptoms last longer than 7-10 days. However, medical professionals should consider these cases individually and carefully monitor patients for side effects, further addictive behaviors, and psychological changes that are detrimental to the overall goal of managing the addiction.

steroids and cocaine
The treatment for Cocaine Addiction must address the context of polydrug users in order to be effective.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

The treatment for Cocaine Addiction must address the context of polydrug users in order to be effective. As stated by The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the piece ‘Cocaine Research Report. How is cocaine addiction treated?’, “In 2013, cocaine accounted for almost 6 percent of all admissions to drug abuse treatment programs. The majority of individuals (68 percent in 2013) who seek treatment for cocaine use smoke crack and are likely to be polydrug users, meaning they use more than one substance. 

Those who provide treatment for cocaine use should recognize that drug addiction is a complex disease involving changes in the brain as well as a wide range of social, familial, and other environmental factors; therefore, treatment of Cocaine Addiction must address this broad context as well as any other co-occurring mental disorders that require additional behavioral or pharmacological interventions”.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction is focused on behavioral interventions that can be used in order to manage this substance dependence in an effective way. There are no medicines that work as substitutes for powder cocaine, crack cocaine and other stimulants of this kind. However, currently, there are some pharmacological advances.