The Athlete’s Addiction
What is the first thing you think of when steroids are discussed? Is it positive? Negative? What comes to mind for me is the vision of an extremely large man with bulging muscles like we see in body building competitions. Steroids are, without a doubt one of the most abused substances in the United States today, and they are also one of the most misunderstood.
What are anabolic steroids? Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. Both male and females have testosterone produced in their bodies. Some common street names for steroids are arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, and juice.
Why are steroids abused? Anabolic steroids are primarily used by bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness "buffs" who claim steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical performance. Also, individuals in occupations that require enhanced physical strength (body guards, construction workers, and law enforcement officers) are known to take these drugs. Steroids are also believed to reduce recovery time between workouts, which makes it possible to train harder and thereby further improve strength and endurance. Some people who are not athletes also take steroids to increase their endurance, muscle size and strength and reduce body fat which they believes improves personal appearance.
Where do you get steroids? Doctors may prescribe steroids to patients for legitimate medical purposes such as loss of function of testicles, breast cancer, low red blood cell count, delayed puberty and debilitated states resulting from surgery or sickness. Other ways steroids are made available to people who want them is they are smuggled into the United States from Mexico and European countries. In today's society, these drugs are predominately sought out by athletes.
Are steroids addictive? Though it may not be obvious, steroids are addictive, which means those who take them may continue to take them even when side effects become severe or use impacts their life in unwanted ways. Some believe steroids are not addictive because they do not create a euphoric feeling commonly found in other drugs of abuse. People who use and abuse anabolic steroids do so for the effects related to improved physical performance and muscle growth. However, with these intended improvements in strength and performance can come many unwanted short-term side effects, which include: acne, mood swings, fatigue, restlessness/agitation, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, decreased sperm count and impotence.
Some of the other more serious side effects are shrinking of the testicles, excessive hair growth in women, deepening of the voice in women, growth of breast tissue in men, fertility issues and heart problems. If you are a parent or someone who suspects a loved one is using or abusing steroids some things to look for or notice are injection sites with infections or swelling and where creams are used, there may be a noticeable odor.
I implore anyone who thinks steroids are an answer to a quick way to get big or improve at a sport to re-think those beliefs. Becoming proficient at a sport or with a physical activity takes time and practice. As a person who has used steroids, I know of the side effects and the dangers of the use of them. Even though your muscles become bigger and stronger, your bones weaken, because your tendons do not grow with the muscle making them not able to hold the rapidly increasing mass. Your bones also have a higher risk and may break more easily.
The physical benefits achieved from the use of steroids are primarily for the effect of how one looks and not necessarily to improve their overall physical health. The risks of long-term use which may include abuse far outweigh any short-term betterment in appearance. It's just not worth it.