Maybe you’ve heard about the use of steroids in some gym-goers, bodybuilders, and sports athletes for enhancing muscle growth and improving athletic performance. In this article, I will share you everything you need to know what exactly are Anabolic steroids, abuse, treatments, proper dosage, and its health risks as well.
What are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic Steroids are derived and synthetically created from the testosterone – the main hormone found in the male. The testosterone hormone is known to maintain and boost muscle growth, and helps in the development of male sex characteristics such as the growth of facial hair, and deepening voice and androgenic development such as male genitals development and increasing both the muscle and bone mass- basically it is the hormone that makes a man a man.
This drug is also called Anabolic-androgenic steroids or AAS and legitimately used for treating different medical conditions such as delayed puberty in adolescent boys, impotence and hypogonadism or the lack of hormones produced in the sex glands in men, osteoporosis, anemia, breast cancer in women, weight loss due to HIV/AIDs, endometriosis or the condition where tissues found in the uterus grows in the different areas of the body and causes pain, irregular bleeding, and infertility, and other medical conditions that includes hormonal imbalance.
Because of the unique ability of Anabolic Steroids to boost muscle mass, it’s used in professional, non-competitive, or competitive sports events are considered illegal due to the possibility of serious adverse effect which can also lead to a high potential of abuse. AAS can be taken by mouth, or externally used. It can also be given by injections usually in the upper outer quadrant of the buttocks, however, some sports professionals inject the drug into the specific areas of their body in the hope to increase muscle mass and strength in that area but it doesn’t work.
Anabolic Steroids can affect the different parts of the body such as hair follicles, liver, blood, muscles, and bones. It can also affect our body’s systems such as the immune system, central nervous system, and reproductive system.
What are the facts about anabolic steroids?
Here are some facts on anabolic steroids that you should know:
- The AAS use is first used during the world weightlifting championships in 1954.
- In the 1930s, the idea of synthetic steroids with the ability to build up biomolecules or anabolic properties was identified.
- In 1975, the IOC or the International Olympic Committee regulated and eventually banned the AAS medication during any sports events.
- Anabolic steroids abuser are usually taken 10 – 100x doses which are higher than the standard prescription.
- AAS is used and combined with diet and workouts to improve athletic performance and a leaner appearance by the adolescent athletes.
- Every cell in our body have receptors for steroids that means every organ system in our body could be affected by this drug.
- The dose of synthetic steroids has the ability to have anabolic effects such as bone and muscle building and the development of androgenic male characteristics as well.
- The drug is regulated in the different countries such as Brazil, Canada, US, Argentina, and Australia.
- Heart attack and stroke are one of the most dangerous health risks linked to AAS use.
- The other alternative names for Anabolic steroids include ‘Arnolds’, ‘Gym candy’, ‘Pumpers’, ‘Weight trainers’, ‘Gear’, ‘Juice’, ‘Balls and bulls’, and ‘Stackers’.
How do anabolic steroids boost your athletic performance?
Anabolic Steroids share a common structure with other chemical compounds. As the drug enters your system, it breaks down itself into small molecules that is enough to pass through your body’s cell mainly because as mentioned earlier, every cell in our body have receptors for steroids called androgen receptor which is where the steroid molecules bind.
These receptors are designed to bind within body’s natural testosterone. With the binding of the synthetic steroids, this will now activate the androgen receptors. The activation will depend on the type of cell the steroids are bind in and changes in how certain genes (especially genes that dominates during the puberty stage) will behave.
Steroids are known to boost metabolism that contributes to the improved muscle mass. The activation of the androgen receptors stimulates the cells to boost and increase the protein production in the body that is used for ATP or energy production as well. This process is called anabolism – a process where your cells in your skeletal muscles replicate itself and grow that’s responsible for building up stronger and bigger muscles.
Some examples of anabolic steroids include testosterone, danazol, oxandrolone, and methyltestosterone.
How do people abuse anabolic steroids?
As mentioned earlier, Anabolic steroids abusers take 10 to 100 times doses higher than the normal prescription doses and usually taken orally or injected into their muscles. That is why it is always recommended to seek hormone specialists before using this. It comes in the form of gel, cream, or patch that can be applied to the skin.
Some sports professionals who abuse anabolic steroids believes that they can maximize its effect or avoid any unwanted side effects by taking them in these following ways:
- Cycling. Cycling describes the use of steroids for certain time intervals or stopping for a time and then restarting. For example, dosing for 12 weeks, and 6 weeks off, and then another 12 dosing weeks.
- Stacking. On the other hand, stacking refers to the multiple uses of the drug at one time. Some athletes took a combination of injectable and oral steroids hoping to enhance their effects.
- Pyramiding. In this way, the user slowly increasing the dose that will lead to abuse, overlapping the amount of prescribed dosage and then gradually tapering off.
Sexual abuse could also link to steroid abuse. According to one series of interviews conducted in male weightlifters, 25 percent of people (both men and women) who abuses steroid suffered from sexual abuses or raped during their childhood.
Another reason why some people abuses this drug is to increase their muscle mass or to reduce their body fat. People who are suffering from muscle dysmorphia – a behavioral syndrome that causes the sufferer to have a distorted image of their bodies. These people think that they’re weak and small but in reality, they are large and muscular or in reverse way in which they think they look flabby and fat even if they are actually muscular and lean.
What is the treatment for anabolic steroid abuse?
Once the abuser stops taking steroids, some withdrawal symptoms may occur including restlessness, mood swings, depression, reduced sex drive and fatigue.
According to studies and proven by medical professionals, to treat anabolic steroid abuse, the abuser should stop using this drugs and seek a medical attention to address any physical and psychiatric symptoms they might have.
What are the health risks associated with the use anabolic steroids?
The adverse effects of anabolic steroid abuse can come from physical effects of life-threatening effects. Below is the list of side effects associated with anabolic steroids that you should be aware of:
- Hormonal System Effects
The effects of steroids can be both reversible and irreversible changes. The drug disrupts the production of hormones in the body. This includes reduced sperm production and testicular atrophyor the condition where the male testicles shrink. Some of the irreversible changes in men include breast development or gynecomastia, and baldness.
In women, the side effects of this drug include acquiring male characteristics such as deepening of voice and masculinization. It also decreases the size of the breast and body fat and enlargement of the clitoris. Women who abuse steroid could also experience excessive hair growth in the body and may lose scalp hair.
- Musculoskeletal System Effects
Some genes responsible for raising the levels of sex hormones and testosterone that happens during the adolescence and puberty may halt its development during the abuse of this drug. An adolescent or a child who’s taking anabolic steroid could have a high sex hormones levels that can stop the bone from growing or tendon rupture.
- Cardiovascular System Effects
As mentioned earlier, one of the most dangerous side effects of anabolic steroids is heart attacks and strokes. Steroids can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Oral steroids can increase the level of the low-density lipoprotein or LDL and also decreases the level of high-density lipoprotein or HDL which means it increases the risk of atherosclerosis – a condition where fatty substances block the blood flow in the arteries that can also lead to heart attacks and stroke when it reaches the brain.
- Other adverse effects
The abuse of anabolic steroids is also linked to the formation of liver tumors and peliosis hepatitis, a condition where tumor or cysts are developed in the liver and causes internal bleeding.
The abuse of this drug could also cause skin and hair problems including acne, oily hair, and skin. Life-threatening infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other both bacterial and viral infection could also occur when this drug is abused. These effects are most likely to happen to the abusers who use nonsterile injection methods. The psychiatric effects of anabolic steroids include mania, delusions, rage, and aggression.
Anabolic steroids or AAS are synthetic versions of testosterone hormone and legally used for treating medical conditions especially on hormonal imbalance. It is commonly used by different athletes, gym-goers, and bodybuilder for its ability to enhance performance and increase muscle mass as well. However, some of the users are abusing this drug in the hope of gaining muscle mass better, but unfortunately, cause them to suffer from various dangerous and adverse health risks.
Anabolic steroids can be safe and recommended medications if supervised and prescribed by a medical provider.