Anabolic Steroid Abuse
Anabolic steroids are commonly abused by bodybuilders and athletes seeking to improve their athletic performance and/or enhance their looks. The complete name for these steroids which are actually synthetically-manufactured testosterone is anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). They are called anabolic because they build muscle and androgenic because they can enhance the sexual characteristics of men. Steroids are rarely taken alone. Those who use it try to make it more effective by stacking or combining it with other steroids and non-steroidal supplements.
Users typically introduce anabolic steroids into the body by mouth, through injection or spreading it on the skin in gel or cream form. Although doctors do prescribe steroids to treat diseases, the doses taken by users exceed physician’s prescriptions by over 10 to 100 times. Users take steroids in cyclical form. That is, they use the steroids repeatedly for a period of a few weeks or months and then stop its use for a certain period of time before another cycle of use is begun.
The rest period is given for various reasons. First, it reduces the undesirable side effects of steroids even as it allows the hormonal system to recover. The breaks are also meant to prevent the body from building a tolerance for the drugs. It also ensures that the body will still produce its own testosterone.
The main difference between anabolic steroids and other addictive substances is that steroids don’t cause the neurotransmitter dopamine to flood the brain. As a result, steroids don’t give the same pleasurable high as that of other drugs. Nonetheless, steroids do produce the effects that the users look for, such as faster speeds, stronger bodies and improved stamina. It is because of this that users get addicted to steroids.
Abusing a substance is never a good thing and steroidal abuse is no exception. In terms of mood and behavior, anabolic steroid abuse can make the user more aggressive. “Roid rage” is the term used to describe abusers who exhibit anger and manic-like signs and make them more violent. Mood swings are also common and so are extreme irritability and paranoid jealousy. They also feel that they are invincible and this also affects their judgment. They are also delusional.
On the physical aspects, steroid abuse can cause serious health issues. It can lead to alterations in blood cholesterol and elevated blood pressure which increases one’s risk of heart attack or stroke. It can also potentially damage the liver and kidneys. They also cause users to experience an acne outbreak and retain fluid in their body.
If there is a reason to prevent men from using steroids, it’s the fact that it can cause the testicles to shrink in size and make them develop breasts. It also causes baldness and reduces their sperm count which is a main factor in making them unable to have children. It also increases their risk of developing prostate cancer.
Since testosterone enhances male sexual characteristics, women abusing anabolic steroids can experience baldness like that of men and may even grow a beard. Their voice will also grow deeper and their menstrual cycle may change or even stop completely. They may also see their clitoris growing bigger with continued steroid use.
Teenage athletes planning to use steroids should be warned that it can cause their growth to get stunted if the use happens before the adolescent growth spurt has occurred.
It’s important to bring the steroid abuser to a drug rehabilitation facility right away so that he can be given the necessary intervention and his withdrawal symptoms appropriately managed. Depression needs to be watched out for because if this is not appropriately addressed, it may lead the abuser to commit suicide.