Ask the Docs: About Steroids

Is ‘roid rage’ a real thing? Can steroids cause you to lose your hair? Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading the student questions and doctor answers from NIDA’s “Chat Day” below.  teen taking steroids in gym


Question: jonahcalebfvsu4, Fort Valley State University 4-H Healthly Living asked:

Hello. Which steroids cause your performance to enhance?

Dr. Jag Khalsa answered:

Anabolic steroids are widely used by athletes and non-athletes - but, their use is associated with significant and serious adverse health consequences including severe depression, suicide attempts, heart failure, kidney failure and even deaths. Check out for more information.


Question: LNguyen, Sugar Land Middle, asked:

Do steroids help you in certain medical cases? If so, why is it dangerous?

Dr. Eric Wargo answered:

Hi LNguyen, Steroids taken by athletes and by non-athlete bodybuilders are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. They can sometimes be prescribed for legitimate medical needs, and there are other "steroid" drugs used for different medical conditions (such as "corticosteroids"), but these are different, and they are taken differently. Misuse of steroids to improve body image or athletic performance is dangerous because it has many harmful physical and behavioral side effects.


angry teen

Question: big_richard69, Clairemont High-Academy of Health&Medical Sciences asked:

 Is it true that steroids make you angry? If true, why?

Dr. Michele Rankin answered:

Long-term steroid abuse can act on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—including dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs. This may result in a significant effect on mood and behavior---including: paranoid (extreme, unreasonable), jealousy, extreme irritability delusions—false beliefs or ideas impaired judgment, and suicide. Extreme mood swings can also occur, including "roid rage"—angry feelings and behavior that may lead to violence.



Question: Jonathan R, Bellefonte Area Middle School asked:

 Are steroids addictive?

Dr. Ruben Baler answered:

An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts.


Question: NBG, Instituto Asunción Aguilas asked:

Can steroids kill you?

Dr. Emily Einstein answered:

Hey NBG- Recreational use of steroids can kill you, though the risk is very small. Other risks of steroid use are far more common. The steroids sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height. It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male). If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video:


Question: kylo360, Ardsley High School asked:teen girl looking at mirror

Why are steroids on the rise again today more than ever?

Dr. Eric Wargo answered:

Hi kylo360. Steroids are popular because lots of people, young men especially, feel a lot of insecurity about their bodies, not having big enough muscles etc. Most people take these drugs not because they are athletes and want to perform better but just because they want to look better. Great question.


Question: Summit11364, Summit High School asked:

What are the side effects of [steroids]?

Dr. Eric Wargo answered:

Hi Summit11364. Steroids can make you hyper-aggressive and also cause your testicles to shrink and growth of breasts (if you are male). It can also cause your heart muscle to dangerously enlarge and can severely damage your liver. Great question!


Question: CLindsay, Kingswood Regional Middle School, asked:

Can you overdose on steroids?

Dr. Albert Avila answered:

Yes, if someone uses too much of anything, they can overdose, including steroids. In addition to overdose, there can be some very serious consequences resulting from the use of steroids. For example, you can damage your liver and cause blood pressure problems.


Check out the full “Chat Day” transcript on National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website.