Over the years, many high-profile professional athletes have experienced humiliation and career knocks after revelations that they have used steroids to improve their performance. From the Olympics to the Tour De France, the use of banned substances – otherwise known as doping – has tainted victories and provoked outrage from sports fans across the globe.
Anabolic steroids – also named anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) – are prescription-only medicines that are sometimes used without medical advice to improve athletic performance and build muscle. However, their misuse carries the risk of significant and potentially dangerous adverse side effects.
Such risks can include heart problems, infertility, high blood pressure, unwanted physical changes, mood swings, and aggressive behavior (“roid rage”). The myriad of major health problems related to the misuse of anabolic steroids has led to a growing concern regarding doping for improved performance.
What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male hormone testosterone. The common street names for anabolic steroids include Arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, juice, roids, and stackers.
While they do have genuine medical uses, such as helping people with certain kinds of amenia, doctors will not prescribe them to young, healthy individuals, who are simply looking to build muscle.
While steroid users will experience muscle growth, it can also cause acne to appear, hair to fall out, and men to grow breasts.
If adolescents take steroids, they’re at risk of stunting their growth. This is because when the body recognizes a certain level of hormones, including the male sex hormone, testosterone, it will stop growing, as the body thinks its already gone through puberty.
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How do people use them?
Taking anabolic steroids continuously can lead to tolerance, and may even stop the body from producing testosterone. There are different methods, or patterns, for taking steroids, called ‘cycling’, ‘stacking’, and ‘pyramiding’:
This method involves taking the anabolic steroids in cycles of 6 to 12 weeks, followed by a period of 4 weeks to several months of abstention.
This is when users take two or more types of steroids at the same time, to maximize results.
Some steroid users start off on a low dosage, and increase their dosage to a peak, before decreasing it again.
There is no evidence to suggest that any of these methods reduce the risks associated with the abuse of anabolic steroids.
Why do people abuse anabolic steroids?
Bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness fanatics who use anabolic steroids tend to do so to give them a competitive advantage, build muscle mass, and improve their physical performance.
Sportspeople have been known to take steroids to improve their performance in competitions and increase the likelihood of victory.
It is also believed that steroid use can reduce the length of recovery time between each workout, making it possible to train more, and further improve strength.
How are steroids taken?
When used for medical purposes, anabolic steroids are administered using different techniques: injection, by mouth, pellet implantation under the skin, and application to the skin using gels or patches.
When it comes to the non-medical use of steroids, the same routes are also used. However, injection and oral administration are the most common methods.
People who misuse anabolic steroids for muscle building tend to take between 1 to over 100 times the normal dose.
The scary side effects of anabolic steroids
The harmful effects that the misuse of steroids can cause – when not used for legitimate medical uses to treat medical conditions – are a growing cause for concern.
The possible short-term effects of anabolic steroid abuse:
- Mood swings
- Decreased sperm count
- Trouble sleeping
- Aggressive behavior
- Stunted growth (in adolescents)
The possible long-term effects of anabolic steroid abuse:
- Heart attack
- Kidney problems such as kidney failure
- Tumors in the liver
Other possible physical side effects include the following:
- High blood cholesterol levels – high blood cholesterol levels may lead to cardiovascular problems
- Fluid retention
- High blood pressure
- Liver disorders/liver disease (liver damage and jaundice)
- Steroids can affect fetal development during pregnancy
- Risk of contracting HIV and other blood-borne diseases from the sharing of infected needles
- Reproductive disorders
- Shrunken testicles
Medical conditions and anabolic steroids
There are legitimate uses for the medical use of anabolic steroids. Health care providers may prescribe steroids to help treat issues such as delayed puberty. They can also be used to treat diseases that cause muscle loss, such as AIDS and cancer.
Are anabolic steroids illegal in the US?
In the United States, the possession or sale of anabolic steroids is illegal, unless you have a valid prescription, as outlined in The Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990.
If it is an individual’s first drug offense, the maximum penalty for possession is a one-year prison sentence, and the minimum fine is $1,000.
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The maximum penalty for trafficking anabolic steroids is a five-year prison sentence and a fine of $250,000.
The above are federal penalties for offenses, but individual states have also implemented their own fines and penalties.
Why are anabolic steroids banned?
The reason for the ban on steroids isn’t due to the competitive edge that they afford athletes. Rather, it is the physical health risks that they pose for the abuser.
The serious, long-term health consequences and negative effects associated with steroid misuse are the reason that they are included on the schedules of controlled substances.
Anabolic steroid use in the US
In the US, only a doctor is able to prescribe anabolic steroids, and they are only allowed to do so to treat a medical problem that requires steroids for treatment.
However, the misuse of steroids to build muscles is all too prevalent, especially among bodybuilders. While a user may not experience the high your typical street drugs cause, the sentence for the illegal possession, use, or distribution of these substances can be just as harsh.
The bottom line
Like other drugs and alcohol, anabolic steroids are addictive. Withdrawal symptoms can include depression and suicidal thoughts.
Counseling is the most common form of therapy for the abuse of drugs. Health care providers may also prescribe medication to help cope with the possible headache, muscle aches, and insomnia associated with withdrawal from steroid use.
The evidence available clearly demonstrates that abuse of anabolic steroids poses the risk of severe health problems. When people misuse anabolic steroids as a performance-enhancing drug, they risk serious side effects, that can even result in death.
Not to worry, we’ve got a better way
And there you have it! As the research has shown, getting your hands on anabolic steroids in the US is pretty unlikely – outside of a medical setting certainly! Plus, with a whole basket load of dangers and side effects, we’re not sure that the potential gains are worth it anyway.
Thankfully, there are natural alternatives to anabolic steroids on the market. And I’m about to introduce you to my top contenders, with a little info below on what they can help you achieve.
Brutal Force has everything you need whether you need a cutting cycle or something to bulk up.
SBULK is a natural and safe testosterone booster and it could be for you if what you’re wanting is:
- Boosted T levels to maximize muscle gains
- Improve performance to really ramp up your workouts
Juiced Upp has also got everything you need to achieve your dream physique. Whether you want to build endurance, increase energy levels, burn fat, or pack on muscle, they’ve got it.
Thermo Tone is a 100% safe and all-natural product designed to boost fat burn. It works to cut through the fat, preserve lean muscle mass, and deliver targeted fat loss when paired with regular exercise and a healthy diet.