Module 2: Basic Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs and Substances

Lesson 1

Anabolic steroids

Although not psychoactive, anabolic steroids are controlled because of their abuse potential and their ability to compromise the health of the individual using these drugs for non-medicinal purposes. Anabolic steroids, also referred to as androgenic anabolic steroids, belong to group of drugs known as ergogenic or performance-enhancing drugs. They include both naturally occurring male sex hormone, testosterone and its precursors, and synthetic derivatives of testosterone. Some are taken orally in pill form; others are taken by intramuscular injection, for example for steroids that are destroyed in the liver after being taken orally; some steroids may be administered in both ways. Some athletes also engage in stacking: the use of several different types of steroids and other hormonal drugs at once. Other dosing regimens include cycling, which refers to periods of steroid use followed by periods of abstinence, and pyramiding, in which the user builds up to a peak dose and then tapers down. All these regimens are peer learned (Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2014).

NOTE: The New Classes of Practitioners Regulations specifies the steroid which NPs are permitted to prescribe. This steroid is identified in Section 4(2) of the New Classes of Practitioners Regulations and the Schedule to Part G of the Food and Drug Regulations.


  • Canadian Pharmacists Association. (2014). E-Therapeutics. Ottawa: Author.