Anabolic steroids have been around since the 1930’s. What was once thought of as a medicinal remedy has now become in the publics eye a dangerous and explosive drug, that seems to turn ordinary men and women into massive muscular beings. Horror stories of steroid before and after resulting in aggression and heart attacks circulate the internet, and the newspapers seem to always have some report of a famous sport figure caught breaking the rules and using steroids.
But what exactly is steroid abuse? What are the signs? Are there any side effects? And perhaps most important, what can we do to curb the abuse of steroids, to not only maintain competitive equality, but to protect everyone from its harmful effects?
Steroids are synthetic hormones that copy naturally occurring enzymes in the human body, often administered in high doses and stimulating rapid muscle growth. They also allow faster muscle recovery. It is used primarily as a medicinal remedy. The United States has very stringent laws and regulations regarding the use of steroids. Normally, a prescription is needed, and only in small doses, when deemed medically necessary. However, in many other countries, the laws are much more relaxed.
The illegal use of steroids happens on many levels, from the high schoolers wanting to look attractive, to wealthy sports celebrities trying to keep a competitive edge. The abuse itself stems from the usage of steroids for a purpose that is not medically necessary. There are also steroid precursors in many dietary supplements that people take without having any idea of the risks.
The effects of steroids are swift and dramatic. Muscle mass is gained at an incredible rate. Physical prowess is sharpened. Combined with extensive training, steroids make the body stronger and faster. But those aren’t the only effects that steroids have on the human body. In excessive doses, steroids wreak havoc in a multitude of ways. Some will fade once the drug is no longer being used, but many will not stop, even if the steroids aren’t ever taken again.
More Side Effects
In males, acne is a prevalent side effect of steroids. The increase of testosterone is similar to that found in puberty, and skin cysts can also develop. The constant use of steroids fools the body into thinking that it doesn’t need to produce the hormone anymore. When the body stops producing it, there can also be shrinking testicles, hair loss, decreased sperm count, and even breast development.
Even More Side Effects
Steroids can also increase bone growth, with growth in the skull and face the most common. Adolescents are at an increased risk if they take steroids before they have stopped growing. Accelerated muscle growth can cause stress on tendons, causing them to rip and tear.
It is estimated that almost 200,000 women take steroids annually. The side effects for women do vary, but the most common are musclizitation that leads to body fat loss and breast size, the development of facial hair, body hair, deepening voice, and even swelling clitoris.
Deadly Side Effects
More serious conditions include heart attack and stroke, blood clots, liver cancer, and even liver failure.
There are psychological side affects as well. Addiction and withdrawal can both occur. Manic behaviour, including hallucinations and delusions have been reported. Aggressive tendencies are common, often called ‘roid rage’.
Given the large and hazardous list of adverse side effects, it seems foolish to think there is anything to gain from taking steroids. If anyone you know is taking steroids, it is your responsibility to take action, to save them from a future of suffering. If you are taking steroids, it isn’t too late to save your life. Talk to a professional today.