Steroids and Alcohol: the risks of mixing both, side effects and more.

Steroids-alcohol-risks

What are the risks of mixing steroids and alcohol?

Mixing alcohol with illicit or prescription medications is not uncommon. However, many people fail to consider the implications of mixing alcohol with steroids and the potentially damaging physical and mental side effects of doing so. 

Drinking on most medications has the potential to cause negative side effects in the user. This is true for drinking while on steroids as well. However, the risks are not considered to be as great as with many other medicines. Most doctors who prescribe AAS drugs acknowledge that drinking in moderation while on the medication is okay.

The concern arises when one or both substances are being abused. For example, someone who takes anabolic steroid injections twice as often will have an increased risk of dangerous mental and physical side effects when drinking. Moderation is key when it comes to steroids and alcohol.

What are steroids used for? 

There are two main types of steroids: corticosteroids and anabolic steroids, however, not many people know how they work and what the differences are between the two?

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are medications commonly used to reduce inflammation in the body. These steroids are used to treat diseases including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. These drugs work similarly to cortisol, by slowing or stopping the immune system from triggering inflammation. Prednisone is one of the most used corticosteroids. 

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are human-made versions of testosterone that can be legally prescribed by a doctor for someone whose body is unable to produce enough testosterone naturally. It is also commonly prescribed to people who have experienced the loss of muscle as a result of cancer and other health issues. 

There are a few reasons someone might take steroids without a prescription. Some use steroids as a way of enhancing athletic performance, or because they suffer from body dysmorphia and wish to appear more muscular. However, while the misuse of steroids does not create a high as seen in other drugs, stopping the use of large doses does create withdrawal symptoms. 

Why do people mix steroids with alcohol? 

Mixing medications with alcohol is often accidental at first. However, when combined, some medications can intensify the ‘buzz’ that alcohol produces. The same can apply to mixing alcohol and steroids. Most of the time it’s unintentional, and the implications aren’t considered. 

However, unlike other medications, mixing alcohol and steroids doesn’t create a high, and regularly mixing the two can increase the chances of experiencing dangerous consequences.  

Mixing-steroids-alcohol

What happens if you suddenly stop taking steroids? 

If you’re taking steroids on prescription, your doctor will likely taper your dose when it’s time to come off them, in order to minimise the possibility of any adverse reactions. However, in this instance, anabolic steroids pose the most risks when stopped. If you’re using anabolic steroids on a long-term basis, your body will have developed a tolerance to these. This means that the brain becomes dependent on the presence of steroids in the system in order to perform basic functions. Sudden cessation of these drugs could result in the following side effects: 

  • Mood disorders 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Decreased libido
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Increased desire to keep taking steroids

If you begin to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, you may find yourself taking more steroids in order to keep these side effects at bay. However, while it provides short-term relief, it is also doing more harm than good. 

Side effects of mixing alcohol and steroids 

Some of the side effects of using anabolic steroids and alcohol alone can include aggressive mood swings, volatility, emotional instability and other serious health complications. When mixed, these symptoms can all be exacerbated. 

Common anabolic steroid side effects include:

  • Acne
  • Fluid retention
  • Mood disorders
  • Painful urination
  • Hair loss or growth
  • Infertility 
  • Changes in libido
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Damage to the liver
  • Ruptured tendons
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Shrinking testicles, breast growth, and sterility in men
  • Deepening of the voice, breast shrinkage and changes to a menstrual cycle in women
  • Psychological dependence and addiction

Mixing alcohol and steroids raises a person’s risk of:

  • Liver damage
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Psychological disorders (depression and suicidal thoughts)

Other physical dangers of mixing these two substances include:

  • Dehydration
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Allergic reactions
  • Gastrointestinal issues

There are also psychological side effects that come along with mixing steroids and alcohol. You may begin to develop an unstable mindset, also known as “roid rage” as well as psychosis and mania. This volatile behaviour, paired with lowered inhibitions of an intoxicated person increases the chances of violence and physical harm. 

FAQs

What are the side effects of drinking alcohol while taking steroids?

While alcohol and steroids both present side effects when taken individually, combining these substances only exacerbates these. Side effects of drinking alcohol while taking anabolic steroids include liver damage, cardiovascular damage and psychological issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts. 

How will mixing steroids and alcohol affect my workout? 

if you’re using them to improve your physical appearance, mixing steroids and alcohol can effectively ruin the results you’ve been working hard to achieve. This is because alcohol can negatively impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG). This hormonal is responsible for regulating the male reproductive system. When alcohol interacts with this system, it begins to lower the levels of testosterone and allow oestrogen to increase. This in turn means the body becomes prone to storing fat and losing muscle mass, reducing the effectiveness of steroids altogether. 

Do steroids make you fat?

Steroids can alter the body’s metabolism and the way it uses and stores lipids, amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, glucose. Each of these factors can increase your appetite and how your body stores fat and water, therefore encouraging weight gain and fluid retention. People who take steroids often notice fat stored around the face, neck and abdomen. Even if you successfully control steroid weight gain, you should expect to appear heavier while on these drugs due to redistribution of fat.

Can you have a beer on steroids?

While a drink or two might not have any impact on your health while you take anabolic steroids, continued use can cause a range of related issues. To avoid any complications arising it’s always best to seek advice from your doctor and avoid drinking beer whilst using steroids. 

How will alcohol and steroids affect my immune system? 

Individually, anabolic steroids and alcohol can negatively impact the immune system and significantly reduce basic functions. By combining the two substances has the potential to cause greater harm. Using both alcohol and steroids is counterintuitive if you wish to enhance your athletic performance as it can increase your risk of falling sick more often.