Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that are more or less variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the actual scientific name for these drugs is “anabolic-androgenic steroids.” In this case, “anabolic” refers to their muscle building properties while “androgenic” refers to the male body characteristics they induce. Read on to learn more about anabolic steroids.
Contrary to popular belief, anabolic steroids have many uses. Firstly, they are used to treat hormone-related medical conditions such as delayed puberty and muscle loss. In addition, athletes use them to bulk up and improve athletic performance. However, organizations and bodies that regulate professional sports disciplines have banned the use of these steroids. This effectively means that professional athletes who use them do so illegally and could face punitive measures if caught. In addition, anabolic steroids are categorized as Schedule III drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meaning a prescription is required to purchase them for medicinal use. According to the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), the anabolic steroids black market in the US alone is worth more than $400 million annually.
Methods of Use
Roids are mostly injected directly into the blood stream (intravenous) or muscles (intramuscular). Furthermore, some anabolic steroids are formulated as pills (taken orally) and gels for rubbing directly on the skin. In some cases, users combine multiple steroids in complex usage patterns commonly known as stacking, pyramiding, or cycling. The aim is to enhance their effects even more. Sadly, doing so translates to high doses that are 10 to 100 times higher than the average dose. Examples of common steroids include anadrol, insulin, dianabol, Lasix, clomid, cypionate, anavar, and winstrol.
Firstly, anabolic steroids masculinize users greatly including enhancing facial hair growth, voice deepening, enlargement of male sex glands, and increasing muscle mass. These are the effects that most athletes desire. However, these steroids can have both short and long-term adverse side effects. For men, adverse effects include shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, heart damage, liver damage, development of breast tissue, and pain while urinating. On the other hand, adverse effects unique to women include voice deepening, excessive body and facial hair growth, enlarged clitoris, reduction of breast tissue, and changes in menstrual cycle.
Other adverse effects include clotting disorders, reduced sexual functioning, rapid weight gain, acne, heart attacks, headaches, insomnia, fluid retention, stunted growth, especially in teens, blood-clotting difficulties, as well as increased risk of tendon and muscle injury. At the same time, anabolic steroid users may experience psychological effects such as depression, increased aggressiveness, impaired judgment, mood swings, restlessness, extreme irritability, delusions, and paranoid jealousy. Sadly, these psychological effects can lead to “roid rage.” More worryingly, steroid use over an extended period could lead to addiction according to CESAR. It is also worth noting that some steroids are made in “underground” labs that are not subject to regulatory oversight meaning they may be contaminated or contain harmful ingredients.
Anabolic steroids are variants of testosterone that are mostly used by athletes to enhance athletic performance. However, steroids have many adverse effects including liver damage, rapid weight gain, blood clotting issues, headaches, heart attacks, decreased sexual function, and impotence.