All About

Drug Class

Anabolic steroids (testosterone and DHT -dihydrotestosterone)

Common Terms

Steroids, roids, juice, the juice, ‘get juiced,’ gear, diesel, sauce

Consumption and Standard Dose
  • Injected as an ester/oil suspension (testosterone and derivatives)
  • Steroids are taken in cycles, with weeks of use, followed by breaks.
  • Applied topically in creams or gels (Androgel, testosterone)
  • Orally as a tablet (Usually DHT derivatives)

The Buzz
  • Improved sense of well-being, a “kick in your step”
  • Increased confidence, ambition, self esteem, assertiveness
  • Increased energy levels, improved sleep
  • Increased libido and sexual desire
  • Large improvement to strength, muscle gain and fat loss
  • Can medicinally treat underlying low testosterone issues
  • Can help to act out sexual fantasies

Overdose and other negative effects
  • Most of the side effects from anabolic steroid use are caused by higher levels of sex hormones. Cisgender male bodies convert portions of testosterone into estrogen, and estrogen plays a vital role in many bodily functions. When you use testosterone you must also contend with this surge of estrogen.
  • Roid Rage: steroids can increase irritability and aggression
  • Cardiovascular stress: high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. An increase in blood fat that can have lasting effects.
  • Liver disease and cirrhosis (oral tablets): For steroids to pass through your liver and reach your bloodstream, they are bound with a chemical that effectively pushes the drug through your liver without being broken down. This puts the liver under a great deal of stress.
  • Androgenic/Estrogenic side-effects: reduces sperm count, shrunken testicles (because the body no longer has to produce its own testosterone), oily skin, hair loss, breast enlargement, mood swings, mania, lowered sex drive/desire.
  • Improper recovery: anabolic steroid cycles are not easy to recover from and often men do not fully recover at all. Proper PCT (post-cycle therapy) is needed to reduce or avoid fluctuating lows in testosterone, symptoms of which are: decreased sexual function and desire, depression, poor sleep, poor recovery from physical exertion, increased body fat, fatigue, poor concentration.
  • Psychological dependence/ Body Dysmorphia: steroids can exacerbate underlying body image issues, such as body dysmorphia. If you find yourself needing steroids to feel attractive, you may have a problem relationship with them. You can talk to one of our counsellors about body image by booking an appointment or walking in to ACT during business hours.
  • Injection complications: Local infection, abscess and bacterial infection due to improper injection techniques. Steroids are injected into the muscle, never inject into a vein. This can be fatal. Click here to learn how to inject more safely.
  • Use new, unused syringes. Prepare for injection on a clean surface. Use ascorbic acid to dissolve your drug for injection. You can get unused injection drug gear through any site associated with The Works through Toronto Public Health

Dangerous Drug Combinations
  • Any stimulant, such as cocaine or meth, can put additional stress on the heart which can exacerbate heart attack or stroke due to high blood pressure and poor blood lipid (fat) conditions.
  • Testosterone is a dopamine agonist. Other dopamine agonists such as cocaine and meth can exacerbate delusions, mania, psychosis and violent outbursts associated with stimulant drugs.

Sex on Steroids
  • Increased desire, function, erection quality, lowered refractory period (recovery after orgasm, meaning you are ready for sex sooner) are a potent combination.
  • Unlike other drugs, steroids are directly associated with increased desirability from and access to other partners. The attention of previously “unattainable” men can itself be a powerful aphrodisiac.
  • Increased feelings of confidence, aggression and assertiveness can also enhance the sexual experience.
  • Conversely, poor cycle technique and/or negative reactions to steroids can have the opposite effect, lowering sex drive and making orgasms unsatisfying.

HIV Medications & Steroids
  • While there is no direct contraindication between ARVs and anabolic steroids, some ARVs are themselves liver toxic, and adding oral steroids to the mix can overwhelm the liver’s coping mechanisms.
  • There is evidence that suggests HIV infection and/or ARVs may have an effect on ability of testosterone to bind to receptors in the body. This is on top of the need of many HIV-positive men to want to appear healthy, strong and desirable. There is value in self-medicating with steroids and this should be mediated with TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) which uses much lower doses and can help achieve many of the same goals without any side effects or complications that recreational doses bring

Additional Resources

Anabolic Steroids, Roids/Slop/Juice/Sauce pamphlet from Ottawa Public Health.

Downloadable through CATIE’s library: