How to Identify Oral Steroid Pills

Three Methods:Using a Pill Identification WebsiteIdentifying a Steroid Pill by NameSeeking Professional Assistance

Steroids are a medication often prescribed to reduce swelling, pain or symptoms pertaining to allergic reaction. They are also often abused by body builders and other athletes to build muscle mass.[1] When prescribed, oral steroids should be taken as directed. If you come across extra pills that haven't been taken, and are unsure if they are steroids, you can identify the pill based on its physical appearance, information on the bottle, or by consulting a professional.

Method 1
Using a Pill Identification Website

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    Make note of identifying features. If you find a pill and don't know what it is, start by taking note of the physical characteristics of pill. In particular, pay attention to:[2]
    • The shape of the pill. Is it circular? Diamond shaped? A capsule?
    • The color of the pill. Is it multicolored? White? Some other color?
    • Any markings, such as letters, numbers, or other symbols.
    • The size of the pill.
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    Visit a pill identification website. There a number of websites that can be used to identify pills based on their physical appearance. Find one of these websites. Some of the better known options include:
    • The National Library of Medicine[3]
    • Webmd[4]
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    Enter identifying features. Enter the information you have noted about the pill. Depending on the website, you will probably need to identify shape, color, and imprint.
    • Some websites will require you to agree to terms of use beforehand, limiting their liability for any misuse of medications you have found.[6]
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    Narrow down based on photographs. If the information you have provided is inadequate to identify a pill, you may be presented with several photographs of pills that could be the one you have found.[7] Look closely at these to compare your pill to the pictures and determine what you have found.

Method 2
Identifying a Steroid Pill by Name

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    Recognize common varieties. There are several common varieties of oral steroids that you may come across. Recognizing these by name will make it easy to determine if a pill is one of them. Among these are:[8]
    • Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)
    • Winstrol (Stanozolol)
    • Anavar (Oxandrolone)
    • Anadrol (Oxymetholone)
    • Turinabol (Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone)
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    Look for information on the pill bottle. If you have the bottle the pill came in, it may be significantly easier to determine whether or what type of oral steroid it might be. Simply look for the name of the medication printed on the label.
    • This information will usually be printed horizontally in black text. Often the name of the drug will be in bold type, at or near the top of the label.[9]
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    Find a book or website listing oral steroids. Next, enter the name into a search engine, or find a book or reputable website that lists the names of oral steroid pills. Good options include and[10][11] Look for the name of your pill on the list.
    • Some pill identification websites will also allow you to enter a name rather than visual identifiers.[12]

Method 3
Seeking Professional Assistance

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    Call the Center for Poison Control. Another way to identify a pill that might be an oral steroid is to call the center for poison control. Their hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.[13]
    • The CPC hotline can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. Call and describe the pill as best as you are able, including information about shape, color, and markings.
    • Their services are confidential and anonymous.
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    Take a photo and submit it online. There are also websites that allow you to simply send in a photograph of any pill you have found for identification. One such website is[14]
    • A medical professional will look at the pill you have submitted and will respond as soon as possible via email to let you know what the pill is.
    • This service is particularly useful for identifying black-market steroids that might not appear in databases of legal or commercially available pills.
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    Take a pill to your doctor or pharmacist. A medical professional such as your doctor or pharmacist should be able to identify pills you have found and let you know whether they might be steroids.
    • If you have been unable to identify a pill using the methods described above and need to know what it, consult a medical professional.[15]


  • If someone you know has taken an unidentified pill, contact the Center for Poison Control immediately. If the person is a child, has taken a large number of pills, or is showing signs of side-effects from taking the pill, call 911 right away.


  • Upon identifying the oral steroid, dispose of it. Oral steroids are meant to be taken sequentially and as prescribed by a physician. Visit the DEA's website for information about local facilities to dispose of medication.[16] If there isn't a facility near you, mix the pills up with an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds.
  • Do not take steroids unless your physician prescribes them. Steroids can cause side effects including weight gain, facial swelling, abdominal pain, blurred vision and fatigue.

Article Info

Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine