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steroids in recovery

Is Using Steroids in Sobriety a Relapse?

As recovering addicts step back into sober living, they often find themselves second-guessing the types of medicines, supplements, and other complements they can incorporate into their lifestyle. One of these struggles comes with the use of steroids. Since these substances are considered drugs, is using steroids in sobriety a relapse? Let’s explore the many possibilities.

What Are Steroids?

Steroids are synthetic hormonal drugs. The two main types are corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids (or anabolics for short). Most people use anabolic steroids, which are synthetic versions of testosterone, sex male hormone. They help build bigger muscles. However, they’re also prescribed by doctors for people with low testosterone, delayed puberty, and muscle mass loss.

Does Steroids in Sobriety Count as a Relapse?

Not necessarily. Recovering addicts can use steroids under medical supervision. Ideally, these are short-term prescriptions to target a health problem, not for muscle building. The problem is, people find ways to maintain their supply of steroids for muscle building purposes illegally. 

When this happens, you’re no longer sober, and your use of steroids counts as a relapse. 

Any drug is taken to alter your mood, enhance your performance, or that drives a compulsive behavior is not sobriety. On the contrary, taking steroids because you have a health condition such as arthritis that required the drug to heal that’s maintaining sobriety. 

The huge problem with steroids is that they do cause steroid withdrawal symptoms when someone abruptly stops taking them. Not to mention, they can often lead to addiction. 

Signs of Steroid Abuse

Addiction to steroids does not differ from an addiction to other drugs. It begins with a distorted perception of reality and a wish to see fast results without hard work. Signs of steroid addiction include:

  • Continued use of steroids despite adverse consequences. 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using steroids. 
  • Hiding steroid use from sponsors, therapists, doctors, family, and friends. 
  • Engaging in risky behavior to get steroids.
  • Unwillingness to discuss tier steroid use when asked directly.

People using steroids often behave the same way as people using drugs. That is to say, they spend money they don’t have, dishonest about their use, preoccupied with the drug, and they continue to use despite repeated negative consequences.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

Most people in recovery are advised to avoid relapse triggers no matter what. However, when it comes to emotional or personal triggers such as stress, depression, and over-confidence, these triggers can be difficult to avoid as they appear out of nowhere. 

Triggers that someone could avoid include things like situations where they know they’ll be likely to relapses, such as bars or places where drugs are available. Other avoidable triggers include people, for example, talking to their former dealer or abusive partner. Some areas, such as the neighborhood they used to buy drugs, the liquor store they frequented, and so on. These are all avoidable triggers that must be identified and remember to prevent relapse. 

Because most of the time, triggers seem to appear out of nowhere, a better option is to learn how to manage triggers. Combatting triggers starts with self-awareness and self-empowerment. Thus, an addict must change their mindset from feeling like a victim to understanding that they are brave for choosing to better themselves through addiction treatment.

Our top suggestions for reducing cravings and relapse triggers are exercising and engaging in hobbies you enjoy. Also, practicing meditation and keeping a cravings journal or a diary. Finally, focusing on the positive aspects of life can help shift your mindset.

What Happens If I Relapse?

Even when you have a concrete plan to identify and manage your relapse triggers, the risk is always there. Relapses are relatively common, and how you manage them is paramount for your long-term recovery. 

If you struggle with relapse, it might be beneficial for you to attend an aftercare recovery program. Or, check with your former therapist to see if you might need a more extended addiction program to feel more stable and ready to face relapse triggers around you. 

Don’t feel as if relapse is a death sentence. While it might feel overwhelmingly like a defeat, it’s not impossible to overcome a relapse. After all, remember all the progress you’ve made so far. 

Finding Ongoing Addiction Recovery Support

When it comes to aftercare programs, we believe they’re critical for trigger management and relapse prevention. Remember, inpatient and outpatient programs focus primarily on addressing the underlying cause of addiction. While in most treatment programs, you do learn relapse prevention techniques, we all know the addiction doesn’t end once you leave rehab. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, seek help today. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our substance abuse treatment programs incorporate relapse prevention techniques throughout the program, helping those in recovery built a strong support system that can help them win the battle against drug addiction.

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