Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medicines that are sometimes taken illegally to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.


Steroids can be harmful to those who take them. Some types of steroids (corticosteroids) are used to help people with inflammatory conditions such as bronchitis, however the more harmful version (anabolic) steroids can cause problems for those that abuse them.

Steroids are performance-enhancing drugs that mimic certain natural hormones in the body that regulate and control how the body works and develops. Anabolic steroids are similar to the male hormone testosterone, and can improve endurance and performance and stimulate muscle growth whilst decreasing fat. However, steroid use can also cause many undesirable side-effects.

They are usually injected into the muscle. Some are available in tablet form, or as creams or gels that are applied to the skin. Injecting the drug can create a risk of AIDS, Hepatitis (liver disease) and other diseases caused by sharing infected needles.

How steroids make you feel

  • They may help sports players train harder and longer
  • If taken alongside a strenuous exercise regime, they may help with faster recovery times and with the building up of muscle mass

Short-term effects

  • Some users feel paranoid, irritable, aggressive or even violent
  •  Dramatic mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • They can sometimes cause unwanted changes in appearance like acne or shrunken testicles

Long-term effects

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of illness and death due to liver failure, stroke or heart attack

The law

  • Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs and are to be sold only by pharmacists with a doctor's prescription
  • It's legal to possess or import steroids as long as they're for personal use
  • Importation or exportation of steroids for personal use can only be carried out in person. Importation or exportation of steroids for personal use using postal, courier or freight services is now illegal
  • Possession or importing with intent to supply (which includes giving them to friends) is illegal and could lead to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine