The use of steroids in our society today is very common, that is with prescription. But that is not the kind of steroids I am talking about, I am talking about Anabolic Steroids. Anabolic steroids are a very sensitive issue in the world of sports today. Even though the side effects are life threatening, men and woman alike continue to submit their bodies to this illegal drug. Anabolic steroids are taken either through pills or injected directly into the blood stream with a needle. In 1994, 1,084,000 Americans, or 0.5 percent of the adult population, said that they had use anabolic steroids, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Under Federal Law it is illegal to possess or distribute anabolic steroids for nonmedical uses. However, heavy demand has generated a black market with estimated sales of up to $400 million a year, according to a NIDA Research Report, Anabolic Steroids: A Threat to Body and Mind (NIDA July/August1997).
Anabolic steroids are drugs derived from the male hormone testosterone. They promote muscle growth and increase lean body mass. Although anabolic steroids have many approved medical uses, some athletes and others seeking to improve performance and physical appearance abuse them. These nonmedical uses are illegal and carry many health hazards. There are many signs that one can look for in a person who is suspected of using Anabolic Steroids. There is dramatic gain in weight and muscle mass over a short period of time (NIDA September1997). Another is severe acne. Others could be water retention, baldness or hair loss, even in the worst cases severe and sometimes violent mood swings and aggressive behavior (Dr. Allen Mask p.1)
A person can choose one of two ways when taking Anabolic Steroids. There is orally or injected. Most athletes and other abusers take them typically in cycles of weeks or months, rather than continuously, in patterns called cycling. Cycling involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. In addition, users frequently combine several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing negative effects, a process known as stacking (NIDA July/August 1997).
A lot of people associate steroids with body builders. I made the same assumption that is until I researched this paper. In the 18-34 age group, about 1 percent had ever used steroids, for ages 35 and older, that figure went down to .2 percent. More men than women had used the drugs: 0.9 percent of men and 0.2 percent of women said they had ever taken steroids. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study has tracked anabolic steroid use among middle school and high school students in the United States since 1989. From 1989 to 1996, there was a slight, gradual decline in the number of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who had ever used steroids or uses them in the past year. In 1996, 1.8 percent to 2.4 percent of these students had ever use steroids, and 0.9 percent to 1.5 percent had used them in the last year (NIDA September 1997).
Under Federal law it is illegal to possess or distribute anabolic steroids of any sort. So who are these people getting this illegal drug from. Anabolic Steroids are manufactured legally or illegally outside the United States and smuggled in, usually through the mail; manufactured legally and diverted to the black market; or manufactured illegally in the United States. Many substances sold as anabolic steroids are diluted, contaminated, or simply fake (NIDA July/August 1997).
Athletes, as well as some coaches, trainers, and physicians, report significant increases in muscle mass, strength, and endurance form steroid use, according to a 1991 NIDA Research Report. In acknowledgement of these effects, the International Olympic Committee has placed 20 anabolic steroids and related compounds on its list of banned drugs. However, no well-controlled studies have documented that the drugs improve agility, skill, cardiovascular capacity, or overall athletic performance (NIDA July/August 1997).
The side effects of anabolic steroids are unlimited, new side effects pop up every day. Some of the main side effects are trembling, severe acne, fluid retention, aching joints, high blood pressure, lower HDL, jaundice, and liver tumors. Also, people who inject steroids with shared needles run the risk of contracting or transmitting hepatitis or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Other side effects for men include shrunken testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, difficulty or pain in urinating, and an enlarged prostate. For women other side effects could include facial hair, offset menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deeper voice, and or reduction in breast size. In adolescents side effects involve premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty leading to stunted growth. Users often become clinically depressed when they stop taking the drugs, a withdrawal symptom that may contribute to dependence. Users also may experience paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility (NIDA July/August 1997)
It was determined that a specific steroid called androstenedione did nothing to raise testosterone levels in power lifting. As pointed out by Drs Palusinski and Barud, “androstenedione intake is not prudent in young people, and because of the potentially harmful sequelae, we believe it should not be recommended to anyone. We also agree that additional research on the effect of androstenedione intake on the prostate gland is desirable.” Of concern is the recent report that androstenedione has neural effects equal in potency to testosterone (Ullis p.5). Androstenedione supplementation does not increase serum testosterone concentrations or enhances skeletal muscle adaptations to resistance training in normotestosterogenic young men and may result in adverse health consequences (King PhD p.2).
Aaron Henry is a bodybuilder. But he did not get his well-toned muscles on his own. When Aaron was a teenager, no matter how much he worked out, he was not satisfied with his size or strength, so he turned to anabolic steroids, “In basically three to six months I went from being able to bench press 250 pounds once and it was difficult doing it once to doing 12 reps with 300 pounds easily.” Aaron paid a price for his new found strength: liver problems nearly killed him. “There is this myth you can take steroids. You improve your performance and endurance and there is no cost what so ever. Because people do not think you do any harm to your body and that is what is really scary.” Despite the warnings, Dr. Harris says it is estimated that as many as 400,000 adolescents have used steroids to gain a competitive edge. Aaron Henry no knows steroids are not worth the risk. “I am here to tell people and especially young people that yes it can happen and yes it will happen to you” (Mask p.1-2)
Anabolic Steroid Use. (1997, September). NIDA Capsule Series, http://www.drug-
Questions and Answers About Anabolic Steroids. (1997, July/August). vol.12,
Mask, Dr. Allen. (1996, July). Steroid Abuse (9 paragraphs). WRAL OnLine.
Ullis, Dr. Karlis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1999; 283: 0209-1.
King DS. Effect of oral androstenedione on serum testosterone and adaptations to
resistance training in young men: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the
American Medical Association. 1999; 281: 2020-2028.
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