In the 1930s, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) were developed in a lab to mimic the results of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. Known today as anabolic steroids – or “roids,” “juice,” or “gym candy” – this synthetic prescription drug is abused mainly by athletes in an attempt to increase strength and improve their performance. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey, 4 percent of graduating high schools students have used steroids during their lifetime and 1.4 percent admitted to abusing them within the last month.
Individuals who abuse anabolic steroids generally inject them or apply them to the skin in amounts anywhere from 10 to 100 times the normal dose prescribed by physicians. Steroid abusers often engage in behaviors called “stacking” and “pyramiding,” which they believe increases the benefits of the drug while decreasing the negative health impacts. In stacking, multiple forms of steroids are taken simultaneously; in pyramiding, users stagger the doses every six to 12 weeks. There is no medical evidence to support the idea that these tactics lessen the harm caused by the drugs in any way.
The Physical and Emotional Risks of Steroid Use
The abuse of steroids may lead to any number of physical maladies, some of which are potentially lethal. Health risks include:
- Liver cancer
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Kidney tumors
- Severe acne
- Shrunken testicles
- Reduced sperm count
- Higher rates of prostate cancer
- Loss of menstrual cycle
- Exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C in IV drug users
In addition to severe physical consequences, a variety of changes can occur emotionally as well. Violent outbursts in steroid users are not uncommon, putting the safety of everyone around them in jeopardy. An individual abusing steroids may experience any of the following issues:
- Mood swings
- Violence called “roid rage”
- Paranoid jealousy
- Poor judgment
What Drives People to Use Anabolic Steroids?
With so many negative side effects, why would people risk taking steroids? For teens looking to excel in the athletic arena, steroids can give the edge they need to get a college scholarship. For professional athletes, it can enhance their performance and continue to make them competitive at the highest level of their sport. Steroids work by producing the following effects in users:
- Increased muscle mass
- Enhanced physical abilities
- Greatly decreased body fat ratio
- Creates a sense of euphoria
- Produces higher self-esteem
Anyone who decides to use steroids may not realize it at first, but they are trading their short-term athletic gain for their long-term emotional and physical well-being.
If you or someone you care about can’t stop abusing steroids, help is available. Here at Axis, we offer a high-quality addiction treatment program that can meet your individual needs. Don’t waste another day living in the physical and emotional turmoil caused by steroids. Get help today.