People use steroids in order to gain muscle mass and improve athletic performance. Although banned by most professional sports, a number of prominent athletes have been caught using steroids in recent years. These substances have also grown in popularity with non-professionals, including young people. As a result, steroids abuse has been a growing problem, causing more people to seek steroid addiction treatment.
There are many different kinds of steroids. Anabolic steroids are usually the kinds that are abused to improve athletic performance. Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations on testosterone, the male sex hormone. Testosterone regulates and controls many of the body’s functions including the repair of damaged tissues. When we work out, tissues are damaged and they need to heal before we can safely work out again. Anabolic steroids speed the recovery process allowing athletes to shorten the time between workouts. This allows them to exercise more frequently. Steroids are particularly popular with body builders seeking to increase their muscle mass in shorter periods of time.
About Anabolic Steroids
Steroids can be injected or taken orally. They can also be applied as creams and gels. Brand names for anabolic steroids include Anadrol-50, Oxandrin and Winstrol. They are also known informally as Arnolds, Gym Candy, Pumpers, Roids, Stackers, Weight Trainers, Gear, and Juice.
Anabolic steroids are classified as Schedule III Controlled Substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning they can only be obtained with a prescription. However, illegally produced steroids are readily available online. Some dietary supplements marketed for body building contain steroids. These can be particularly dangerous because they may contain toxic adulterants.
Abuse of anabolic steroids can take a serious toll on a person’s body. Symptoms of steroids abuse include:
- Liver and kidney tumors
- High blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol
- Severe acne
- Fluid retention
Men abusing steroids may also experience testicle shrinkage, reduced sperm count, baldness, breast development and prostate cancer. Women may experience increased facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes or cessation in menstrual cycle and deepening of the voice.
In addition to the physical side effects, steroid abuse also impacts users psychologically. These symptoms of steroids abuse include:
- Dramatic mood swings
- Paranoid jealousy
- Impaired judgment
Of particular concern is the growing problem of anabolic steroids abuse among young people. A 2015 survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Found that 2.3 percent of high school seniors had used anabolic steroids at some point in their lives. Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer in the Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products observes that “Parents tend not to believe their teens would consider taking anabolic steroids, but the truth is that the frequency of steroid use in this age group is far greater than many would guess.”
Teens are susceptible to certain side effects from steroids abuse not experienced by adults. Steroids can disrupt puberty, compromising bone development so that teens may not achieve full height. Brain development may also be impaired. Dr Richard Melloni of Northeastern University says that “because the developing brain is more adaptable and pliable, steroids could change the trajectory if administered during development.”
It is likely that some young people are influenced by professional athletes who have used steroids in order to successfully compete at the highest levels. In recent years there have been a number of high profile cases involving athletes and steroid use. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was banned for the entire 2014 season for using performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids. In 2012, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France titles for using anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances.