There’s limited evidence on managing withdrawal, but several studies suggest that prolonged withdrawal symptoms are often the norm. While symptoms have been known to last for weeks or even months, the exact duration varies by user, with numerous factors influencing the timeline and severity of withdrawal symptoms. These include how long steroids have been used, the average regular dose, frequency of use, administration methods, and whether the user consumed alcohol or other drugs while using steroids.
Another factor that impacts withdrawal duration is the type(s) of anabolic steroid because some steroids stay in the system longer than others. The longer steroids remain, the more prolonged the detox. Depending on the half-life of the steroids taken, withdrawal symptoms may not even begin for several days following the last dose.
Once withdrawal symptoms begin, they may be subtle, such as headache, nausea, and irritability. It may not take long for symptoms to ramp up, with some previous steroid users experiencing extreme fatigue while struggling with insomnia. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, may get worse instead of better over time. All symptoms eventually fade away. However, the timing of when each symptom begins and ends fluctuates for so many reasons that pinpointing exact timetables and duration are nearly impossible.
Hormone imbalance worsens withdrawal from anabolic steroids
Steroid use can create tremendous hormonal imbalances within the body that can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. The body becomes used to having an increased testosterone level, which reduces its natural ability to produce testosterone on its own. Once the user quits using steroids, testosterone levels drop, causing withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms continue until the body can begin producing testosterone again, and this often takes a while.
Withdrawal symptoms can last a long time
Once steroid withdrawal symptoms start, they can last a long time, with numerous factors influencing duration. The type of steroids taken can be a primary influencer because some stay in the body much longer than others. The longer withdrawal symptoms linger, the more likely the abuser’s chances of going back to using steroids or turning to other harmful drugs just to relieve the prolonged unpleasantness.
Steroid withdrawal can lead to depression and suicidal behavior
Mood disorders with suicidal depression are the most life-threatening issue regarding steroid withdrawal, and this depression can persist for years. Although depression doesn’t appear to affect everyone, studies have documented depressive symptoms, especially during withdrawal, with several reports of suicides. It’s unclear whether individuals with depression caused by stopping high-dose steroid use would respond to antidepressants and should be monitored carefully for suicidal behavior.
Steroid Detoxification Medications
Certain medications have been shown to help treat the symptoms of anabolic steroid withdrawal in some cases. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants to treat depression, nonnarcotic pain medicines for headaches and muscle and joint pain, antianxiety medications, and synthetic hormones or other medications to help restore hormonal balance.
For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Steroid Addiction.