Can Female Athletes Become Addicted to Performance-Enhancing Drugs?
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When most people think of athletes struggling with addiction to performance-enhancing drugs, they think of men. We’ve seen it happen to some of the best Olympians and most-famous competitors. Many people refer to this practice as “doping.” In reality, women athletes also can become addicted to performance-enhancing drugs. Addiction doesn’t discriminate when it comes to who it can affect. 

Anyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality, age, or background, can fall into addiction. It’s important to be aware of what drugs athletes commonly misuse and what the dangers of using these drugs regularly could be. It’s also important to raise awareness about this type of addiction so that female athletes around the world can know that there is hope for them. 

What Performance-Enhancing Drugs Do Athletes Often Misuse? 

There are a variety of different performance-enhancing drugs that an athlete may use to try to give themselves an edge over their competitors. Many athletes never intend to end up addicted to these substances. They may tell themselves that they’re just going to do it one time or just when they have a really serious competition that they need to win. But as often occurs with other types of addictions, you only have to try something once to find out that you cannot stop taking it. Some of the most common performance-enhancing drugs that athletes misuse include: 

  • Steroids: Steroids help build muscle and body mass, but they don’t affect an individual’s skill. Typically, mostly male athletes use this type of drug because it could cause a woman to develop more manly features. But this doesn’t mean that a female athlete could not still become addicted to this drug. Misusing steroids can result in a plethora of health problems, such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can also lead to fatigue, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, as well as an increased risk of depression. 
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH): People use HGH to repair muscle, build muscle mass, burn fat and heal from injury. But some people misuse this hormone by taking more than the recommended dose. This can lead to things like arthritis, joint pain, diabetes, and even overdose. 
  • Stimulants: Some athletes will obtain prescription stimulants illegally to use with the intention of enhancing their performance. This could be something like Adderall, a drug that is used to treat someone with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and help them focus better. Athletes abuse this drug because they believe it makes them more alert and better able to concentrate when they are competing. This is a very dangerous practice that can lead to seizures, shortness of breath, fainting, blurry vision, and confusion. When this drug is used alongside alcohol or other drugs, a person risks overdose and death. 
  • Diuretics: Another drug that an athlete may misuse is a diuretic alongside a performance-enhancing drug. This is because it helps flush water out of the body quickly. This can help an athlete hide the fact that they were using other drugs in the case that they have to pass a drug test. 

How Would a Female Athlete Seek Treatment for an Addiction to a Performance-Enhancing Drug? 

Taking a performance-enhancing drug even just one time is not a risk worth taking. Not only can you get disqualified if you are caught engaging in this practice, but you can lose your place on a team or league and essentially ruin your future. More importantly, you could end up getting addicted, permanently harming your body, and even dying. When you continue to misuse these types of drugs over a long period of time you will build up a tolerance. This means that you’ll need to take more and more of these drugs to feel the same effects. This is a dangerous practice that can increase your risk of overdose. 

It can be hard for an athlete addicted to performance-enhancing drugs to quit for many reasons. Not only must they accept the fact that they must rely on their own natural ability and talent moving forward, but their body will go through a lot of changes, and they are also likely to experience withdrawal side effects after they stop taking the drug. Because these side effects can be very uncomfortable and even life-threatening, it is recommended that a patient goes through the detox process while under medical supervision in case a medical issue arises. This process is done in an inpatient care facility where the individual’s withdrawal side effects can be managed properly. 

While it may be more common to hear of male athletes misusing and becoming addicted to performance-enhancing drugs, it is also possible for female athletes to struggle with this problem as well. Some of the most common drugs that are misused by athletes include steroids, HGH, stimulants, and diuretics. This is a very dangerous practice, and it can lead to many health complications, overdose, and even death. It is not worth the risk to engage in this practice, even one time, no matter how much of an edge you believe that it will give you over your competitors. Because a person trying to quit using these substances will likely experience withdrawal, it is often recommended to detox in an inpatient care facility. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho-Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.