Steroids Pros And Cons Essay
The Pros & Cons of Steroids
by David Robinson
Steroids have been available within the sporting community for at least 50 years, with their use increasing in line with added pressures placed on athletes to perform.Developed in the late 1930s to treat hypogonadism (a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning), steroids, as they are commonly known as, are actually a class of drugs (variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone) that stimulate, through various hormonal pathways, an anabolic, tissue-building, process.
In their class categorization, steroids are termed androgenic (promoting masculinity) anabolic (tissue building), hence their full title: androgenic anabolic steroids. The androgenic effects of steroids are typically experienced naturally by males during puberty.
Anabolic, on the other hand, refers to the anabolism that occurs due to steroid enhanced protein synthesis. It is the anabolic effects of steroids bodybuilders and other athlete's desire.
In light of research and anecdotal reports concerning the pros and cons of steroid use for bodybuilding purposes, it seems there are definitely two major camps, each with fundamentally differing perspectives regarding the merits of these drugs.
The pro-steroid camp would say that steroids, taken under a doctor's supervision, will enhance one's health and well-being and, of course, keep them ahead of the pack in terms of bodybuilding success. This camp sees no ethical dilemmas associated with steroid use as these drugs, in their view, are a reflection of progress and the belief that one should keep up with all the bodybuilding trends to excel to the fullest possible degree.
Given steroids are synthetically derived versions of the natural male sex-hormone testosterone, it is thought they could actually assist the male who, for whatever reason, experiences declining levels of this hormone, they say.
However, firmly positioned on the opposite side of the fence are the anti-steroid camp who strongly regard steroids as dangerous drugs to be used only for the purposes for which they were originally intended (to improve weight loss due to severe illness, control breast cancer, treat anemia and treat osteoporosis).
They say steroids have dangerous side effects, which could even, in extreme cases, result in death. The anti-steroid camp also feel that the use of steroids in bodybuilding unfairly disadvantages those who choose to go the natural route (steroids used in this context is commonly referred to as cheating).
Steroid detractors also site the fact these substances are illegal and can only be obtained legitimately with a doctor's prescription. Illegal steroids are sourced primarily from dealers who smuggle them from certain countries. They are also diverted from pharmacies or synthesized in clandestine laboratories.
Steroids Are Here To Stay
Whichever view one has, the truth is, with pro sport increasing its grasp on society, coupled with the pressures placed on athletes to win at all costs, steroids are here to stay. The best course of action for anyone undecided as to whether steroids are for them is to make an informed choice.
Read the research and various case studies concerning these drugs to help determine what is the right choice. Above all, don't take advice from unqualified sources as to whether steroids are suitable for you. Everyone is different, and it takes a specialist to determine the effects a steroid will have on a certain individual.
Natural Bodybuilding Advocate.
One man who is staunchly in the anti-steroid camp is Anthony Catanzaro. Anthony has trained for over 20 years as a natural bodybuilder, along the way winning numerous bodybuilding titles. Rather than taking the steroid option, Anthony persevered and through an intelligent approach to dieting and training has crafted a physique anyone would be proud of.
Professing an unwavering level of respect for his health and well-being, Anthony feels putting potentially toxic chemicals into one's body is a sign of disrespect and should be discouraged. Anthony has never been tempted to use any form of performance enhancing drug to accomplish his bodybuilding goals and feels to do so would compromise his integrity.
In this interview, Anthony shares his secrets to building a great physique the natural way and gives his candid views on the controversial topic of steroids in bodybuilding. Given his bodybuilding success, Anthony does talk with a degree of authority, which makes this interview compulsory reading for anyone contemplating steroid use.
[ Q ] Hi Tony. How did you initially become interested in natural bodybuilding?
Hey David. I have always been interested in bodybuilding and the human body for as far back as I can remember. I have always been interested in how the body works and how to achieve greatness in one's physique. The human body was designed to meet the demands of what its environment would shell out.
In other words, if you are going to sit at a desk all day and the only exercise you get is from lifting your arm to get those chocolates next to you, you are not going to have the body of your dreams. Remember, you become your environment. I'm always looking for ways to challenge my body and in return, that strengthens my soul.
[ Q ] What is it about bodybuilding that you love most?
I have to say that it's the one sport where it's all you! You can't rely on a team member, or a coach to get you out of a mess. In other words, if you fail on stage they cannot bring in a relief poser. You have to be confident enough to know you could win.
Read my confidence article to "bring out the best in you." Bodybuilding is one of hardest sports. For example, a baseball team can go get hamburgers and beer after a game. But there is no way a bodybuilder could do that after a workout, or as he or she is in training for a show.
With High Intensity Interval Training you can burn more fat while spending less time in the gym. I will explain how you can get the best results from this.
Therefore, it is a 24 hour seven-day-a-week sport. You have to give credit to bodybuilders as we are probably the hardest workers in sports history.
[ Q ] Why did you opt for the natural approach?
I'm asked this question all the time and I'll tell you the same thing that I tell others. I want to be healthy on the inside, not just on the outside. I know many guys that are using drugs and they have encountered many problems from it. From skin damage to liver and kidney failure: it's pure GARBAGE!
I do not recommend anyone use it, try it, or think about it. It's not what the sport is about! This sport is about building your body and your mind, not destroying it!
[ Q ] When you say steroids destroy the mind, what do you mean here?
What I mean is that it is not physically but mentally damaging. A person on steroids will know in the back of their mind that he or she needs the stuff to be on top. It's like that old saying that I have, "if you are unhappy with yourself being poor, then you will never be happy with yourself being rich."
You must learn to love yourself regardless of your financial status, height, weight and race. It all begins with the mind. Remember, it doesn't take a championship win to be a champion. You can be a champion to your family, and friends and that's what really matters.
[ Q ] The issue of drugs in sport has always been controversial. What is it about drug taking for performance enhancing purposes that you oppose?
I'm against the whole thing. I don't judge a man on how he earns a living to put food on the table, but you have to understand the tone you are setting for others like your kids, your family, and your friends.
Do you know that I have fans around the world that look up to the fact that I have never used enhancement drugs and that inspires them to do the same. That alone makes it all worth while for me.
[ Q ] What negative effects of performance enhancing drugs have you witnessed?
Well I see it all the time... a guy will walk in the gym that I haven't seen in a few months, and he would be pumped out with crazy veins and looking like he is flexing when he is just standing there. He also has a look on his face as though he is guilty of something.
I truly feel that a person on steroids and growth hormones has a feeling of emptiness inside them. It's almost like when a person cheats someone out of something. They don't feel as though they accomplished anything. Again, this is my own opinion.
I understand that in order for a lot of them to win, they have to use what everyone else is using. But stop and think about it. What are you gaining? Forget the prize money and the pro card, look inside yourself and ask yourself, are you really a winner? Think about it...
Benefits & Costs Of Steroid Use:
As mentioned, steroids can have a variety of effects - both good and bad. They can be legitimately used to treat several types of disorders, in addition to re-building muscle mass lost through illness. Steroid inhalers have proven very useful in combating death from asthma and local steroid injections are beneficial for treating painful joints and ligaments.
It is clear anabolic androgenic steroids have a legitimate place in medicine. However, they also can cause a variety of deleterious side effects. Anyone using steroids will experience a trade-off between the positive and negative effects these drugs present.
The following is a list of commonly reported costs and benefits. You decide.
In considering the following effects it must be understood that the degree of effect a particular steroid has will depend on several variables. These include: individual susceptability, type of steroid, amount of steroid taken and degree of risk.
Benefits (Positive Effects)
Increased leanness and muscle definition.
Increased muscle mass and general weight gain.
Increased effectiveness of training.
Improved recovery rate.
Euphoria (feelings of positivity and confidence).
Increased sex drive.
Costs (Negative Effects)
Increased risk of mood disturbances including mania and depression.
Increased risk of psychosis.
Increased risk of aggressive acts which may injure self or others.
Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Increased risk of liver disease and cancer.
Increased risk of kidney disease and cancer.
Risk of HIV and Hepatitis B & C from contaminated needles.
Decreased sex drive.
Increased risk of muscle tears.
Increased risk of tendon injuries.
Increased risk of nose bleeds.
Decrease in immune system effectiveness.
Increased risk of prostate enlargement and cancer.
Decreased testicular size.
Gynecomastia (growth of breasts).
Increased risk of cervical and endometrial cancer.
Increased risk of osteoporosis.
Irreversible enlargement of the clitoris.
Irreversible hoarsening and deepening of the voice.
Irreversible increase in facial and body hair.
Decreased breast size.
Amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation).
Premature ephiphyseal closure.
[ Q ] What are the benefits to being a natural bodybuilder in your view Tony?
You can inspire others to follow in your footsteps you can show people that you can build muscles naturally with proper diet and training. That's why I create customized diets through my web site. I can create a diet to get you where you want to be the right way.
I Can Create A Customized Diet Just For You. To Learn More Click Here.
Whether you're looking to gain mass or get ripped, I do all the work for you. With my 20-plus years experience, it's the best investment you can make for a lifetime.
[ Q ] What other benefits are there to being a natural bodybuilder in your view Tony?
There are so many, but I think the best reason is the motivation it gives others to go out there and learn as much as they can, and to be able to have an outlook that a champion body can be made without the use of steroids and other drugs. Inspiring others is a true gift.
I would encourage those reading this article to get off steroids and to become one with their body again. You don't realize the effect it's having on you right now. You don't need it! I can guarantee that getting off the stuff will be the best decision you ever made. I promise you that you will be rewarded for it from above.
Just like any other drug, it destroys you mentally and physically. Just think of it as the devil going inside you. Do you think he is out for your best interest? No, of course not. He is out to destroy you! Stay natural and put your hand in the hand of the man upstairs.
[ Q ] What are some of the things a non-drug user should do to ensure bodybuilding success? What kind of attitude do they need?
It's just like anything else, you have to put everything you have into your workouts, your diet and your rest. You also need to have a clear outlook on what you want to achieve. You have to "believe it to achieve it." In other words, if you really don't think that you can make your arms grow two inches, then they won't grow at all.
You need to have what I like to call mind to muscle concentration. Otherwise, you are just spinning your wheels and staying in the same spot. Your attitude should be this: "everyday I am getting closer and closer to my goals". It's like climbing a ladder, keep going up... not up and down.
[ Q ] Drugs are often seen as an easy road to gaining size. What unique struggles do natural bodybuilders have compared to their drug using counterparts?
Size is always considered a plus in bodybuilding, but I never thought of it that way. You see, I look at the body as an ice sculpture, while one person might consider adding size to his shoulders for a more V-taper look, I would look to make the waist smaller to give even more of a V- taper approach.
You see, bodybuilding doesn't mean build size it means build a body. That means looking at yourself like a statue, or how a car is designed. I just bought a Jaguar XK8 because I was drawn to the body style. This car in my opinion one of the sexiest body styles I have ever seen on a car! The bottom line is I don't think bigger I think better. Forget the HUMMER!
[ Q ] Describe the feeling being a good natural bodybuilder gives you?
First of all... don't you mean great? I'm only kidding! It's just a great feeling to know that you are of clean body, mind, and soul.
[ Q ] We know that various drugs make it easy for a bodybuilder to progress in their sport. What does a natural bodybuilder have to do differently when aiming to pack on the muscle and arrive onstage ripped?
Basically the same thing a bodybuilder on drugs would do, gain as much lean muscle mass in the off-season as he or she could. That's lean muscle mass, not bloat, fat, or water.
There are some guys in my gym who compete in drug shows. I have respect for them because they are nice guys, but of course I don't agree with what they are doing. One guy would gain 50lbs in the off-season, which of course he had to lose to make his weight class for the show.
What's the purpose of gaining mass if you can't keep it? I never understood that. I'm never more than 15lbs higher than what I would compete at. Therefore, in the past I have done middleweight shows coming in at 176lbs, which is the top off the class. So my weight in the off season would be around 190lbs.
This year, I will compete for the first time ever in the light heavy weight class. I will weigh around 190lbs on stage so that means I need to be at least 205lbs for my off season. This is how I do it and believe me it works. Why would you want to kill yourself dieting for 12 weeks to get rid of the so called mass you built during the off season?
2005 INBF Natural NYC Middle Weight Champion
2003 Fame America Model Universe, First Runner Up
2002 NPC New York State Bodybuilding, Middleweight winner & overall champion
2001 INBF Tournament of Champions, Middleweight Champion
1998 Natural Bodybuilding, Middleweight Champion
1997 Mr. Fitness Champion
[ Q ] Have you ever considered using drugs to gain additional size?
NEVER! NEVER ! NEVER! PERIOD!
[ Q ] What has stopped you from considering drug use?
It's not what I'm about. I'm not into putting garbage chemicals in my body to win a show or to impress people. It's much more impressive winning a show or looking pumped the natural way. When your body is naturally pumped, your mind will be as well.
[ Q ] Have you ever been offered steroids? What did you say? What would you say?
Luckily, I have never been offered steroids. I didn't start working out at a gym until I was 26yrs old, so for 11 years I trained in that little home gym I made when I was growing up. I think that the decision to use steroids would be made early on in the first year or two of training.
So kids that are 17-18 years old, would be a high risk since the majority of them are unaware of the effects, they would just think that it's normal to use it. I want to speak to those kids right now and tell them first hand: you do not need steroids. Even guys that are using them agree that it's not a wise choice.
Like I said before, they let the competition or the peer pressure take a hold of them. You don't need it. Even to this day I don't even know what steroids look like. That is the God's honest truth - remember these words:
"Eat clean to be lean and workout tough to be buff."
[ Q ] What advantages do you have over a steroid user do you think?
Well like I said before, bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. It's the whole package and there are a lot of steroid users that are completely bloated and out of proportion. Then there are also some who are flawless, but the bottom line is that I will never lose what I have developed. That is because I did it naturally.
I don't have to see myself shrink away to nothing. That is what happens when you stop taking the drugs. That must be very depressing to see yourself shrink more and more each day. It's like the wicked witch of the West, I'm melting. Stay natural, and you will have those muscles for life. Muscles don't age so you can always gain, at any age!
[ Q ] Can you think of any specific examples of the adverse effects of steroids?
Like any other drug, it alters your mind. You aren't the same person because your hormone levels including your testosterone levels are altered. Plus who wants to be around a bodybuilder when he's having mood swings?
[ Q ] It has been said that drug using bodybuilders work very hard and make greater sacrifices to reach the top. Do you respect those who use drugs to enhance their physiques?
Like I said before, I don't judge them, that's the decision they made, and yes they do work very hard. I have made plenty of decisions and choices in my life that others would not agree on, but one thing I can say is that any choice I made would come from my love and honesty for something.
If they truly love the sport of bodybuilding they wouldn't need it. It's not what bodybuilding was made for! It gives the wrong impression to those who are just beginning to lift weights.
[ Q ] Do you think steroids have a place in professional bodybuilding? What do you think of compulsory drug testing?
I feel that professional bodybuilding or any professional sport for that matter, would open a path for drug enhancements. We are talking about thousands of dollars. These guys do this for a living, and most of them do nothing else but this. So yes, being the best bodybuilder, football player, baseball player and wrestler would mean they would do whatever it takes to win, but in the end they loose.
[ Q ] What are the best non-drug methods for gaining muscle in your experience?
Diet. You can train until your arms fall off, but like I always say, "If your diet ain't right you'll never be tight". Learning about nutrition is key. I put it all together for you with my customized diets.
[ Q ] Do you think more people will take the drug-free approach, or are drugs becoming more popular?
This is funny my brother-in-law, Anthony, always told me that I'm a legend before my time and that one day people will look at my photos and say this guy did it natural back when. I don't think drugs are becoming more popular.
The look of bodybuilding is changing and there is more information available now than ever before. Men and women are more into the hard lean look so the use of steroids is becoming less and less I feel.
[ Q ] What would you like to achieve as a drug-free bodybuilder?
I have already achieved it. I inspire people all over the world. I have fans in places that I didn't even know existed. I never thought I would have an impact on people like I do. It is truly a blessing from God.
[ Q ] What message would you like to give to the younger bodybuilder contemplating drug use?
Don't do it. I have been training for over 20 years and have learned that within time like wine, your body will get better and better. Understand that bodybuilding is not to impress girls, or to look good on the beach during spring break. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle for you to follow for the rest of your life.
It's like this... a person who does something for the wrong reason will never truly be one with himself. He or she will go on through life looking for ways to get things without the right intention. Remember, when your body is pure then and ONLY then will you be given the greatness from God.
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Effects of Steroids
Steroids are generally referred to as a group of drugs that are used in medical science to treat a large number of medical conditions. Steroids serve various medical purposes like regulating sexual characteristics in men following the testes removal surgery on the vent of testicular cancer. They are also used to treat adolescent males suffering from issues with their pituitary gland as well as cancer, which are known to cause degradation in muscle tissues.
These drugs can also be used to enhance reproduction, and regulate metabolism as well as the immune system. They are also used for improving muscle mass, inflammation issues, and many other medical complications. Many young and healthy people turn to steroids in the hope of gaining muscles. Doctors abstain from prescribing for the same and using steroids without prescription is considered illegal.
Classification of steroids
Steroids are further classified into:
- Anabolic Steroids – These are known to promote growth in the skeletal muscle of males and are used to treat some medical problems related to muscle loss, late puberty, and hormone deficiencies. Athletes as well as bodybuilders use steroids for facilitating muscle growth and improving athletic performance. This is considered to be an illegal practice and the law has provided for stringent punishments to those found guilty of doing so. These steroids are administered through ingestible pills or steroid injections into the skeletal muscle of an individual.
The three most common ways in which users abuse steroids are known as stacking, cycling, and pyramiding. Stacking is extremely dangerous as this involves using more than one steroid at a time. Users tend to believe in the notion that using two steroids at once increases their individual benefits. Cycling on the other hand involves taking a steroid over a certain period of time, allowing the body to rest and then starting afresh.
Pyramiding is a process that combines both cycling as well as stacking. Users begin with low doses of one or more steroids initially in the cycle, gradually increasing the dosage. Halfway through the cycle the dosage is maximized and then it is again gradually reduced to zero by the end of the cycle. Athletes design their exercise programs in such a way that they can get the most out of their exercise programs. They schedule more exercises when the effects of the steroids are likely to be at an optimum high. Steroid use cycles are usually between six to 12 weeks long. A rest period is likely to follow for recuperation purposes after the exercise program is over .
- Androgenic Steroids – These are known to develop male sexual characteristics including organ development and the development of other physical features. These are given to individuals who have potency related issues or growth deficiency. Repeated usage is likely to introduce uncomfortable physical changes like breast development in males and facial hair growth in females.
Some of the most common oral steroids are Anadrol, Dianabol, and Oxandrin while popular injectable steroids include Equipoise, Deca, as well as Depo.
Growing mainstream usage and abuse
Studies in recent years have shown an alarming increase in steroid abuse by individuals across different cultures and ethnicities for the obvious physical advantages steroids are known to bring. According to a study conducted in 2000, almost 2.5% of individuals in the 12th grade reported steroid abuse, a number which increased to 4% by 2002. These individuals, mostly in their teens, use steroids to improve their athletic performance, but a wide majority is using steroids to fulfill their aspirations of possessing the perfect physique.
Steroids are also being increasingly used as recreational drugs as it is known to induce euphoria in individuals and gives them a sense of intense power. Black markets around the world are being flooded with steroids owing to them being prescription medicine and the general difficulty to procure them. Although law defines unauthorized steroid use as an illegal practice it has been constantly ignored by steroid abusers.
Two sides of the coin
Steroids are known to contribute greatly to the human body but proven research has shown us that there are dangerous side effects that cannot be ignored. Steroid usage is strictly recommended only under the doctor’s prescription.
In sports, athletes are taking mega dosages of steroids sometimes up to 100 times more than what doctors would suggest for medical treatment. Bodybuilders and athletes have the perception that normal training would not be enough to be successful. They also believe that some of the other competitors may be using steroids that give them an unfair advantage. Bodybuilders and athletes are not the only ones who indulge in steroid abuse. Football players, discus throwers, street skaters, and many more are also known to have abused steroids to enhance their performance and improve the efficiency of their training regimes. But this is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Athletes who abuse steroids are in a constant cat and mouse game with doping agencies. Athletes try and plan their steroid use to ensure that the drug is out of their system when there is a scheduled drug test. At times, masked drugs are taken to effectively cheat the test by securing a negative result during after the test. Black market developers continue to introduce steroids known as ‘designer steroids’ that are known to be undetectable through testing.
It is also not advisable to use two types of steroids at the same time, but many athletes around the world are ignoring the manuals and instructions written on steroid covers. First-time users are seeking guidance from sellers or misinformed people and are falling prey to the web of misconceptions people have created about steroids. Some individuals also give in to steroid use after picking up on the cues from their friends who are already indulging in steroid use. These individuals procure steroids from the black market where steroids are known to be notoriously adulterated. There have been reports of vials of water or dye being passed on as illegal steroids by players. Let’s discuss more in detail as to what are the positive and negative effects of steroid use.
Positive effects of steroids
It is important for you to understand that the negative effects of steroid use are found in individuals who have a proven history of steroid abuse. Steroids are known to have several positive effects for the human body, and when administered in the right proportions by licensed professionals they are unlikely to cause much harm to the individual. Some of these positive effects of steroids are discussed below:
- Steroids are known to increase recovery times in individuals dramatically. Cortisol is a hormone which is produced inside our body to help it handle stress. Cortisol is responsible for causing damage to muscle tissues and slowing down the time taken for a human body to recuperate. Steroids are known to regulate the production of this hormone when an individual’s body is stressed. This helps bodies to recover from sustained injuries a lot faster than normal and allows more stamina while an individual is exercising.
- Another positive effect steroids are known to have is that they increase the muscle size of the user. Steroids multiply the nitrogen content in the human body. Increased nitrogen levels facilitate higher production of protein in the body which is a critical factor in the development of more muscles. Muscles will start to develop without exercising them but a rigorous training regime could produce dramatic results .
- Steroids are also known to greatly reduce body fat in the human body. Although no particular reason for this has been determined, general speculation suggests that steroid users lose body fat because of a sustained increased in their metabolism rate. Several medical experts have reported that steroids tend to accelerate the power producers in cells known as ‘Mitochondria’ that are known to oxidize fat. According to them, this increased production of ‘Mitochondria’ is how steroids help users cut down on their body fat.
- Steroids have the notorious reputation of causing several medical complications in human beings, but many fail to give credit to these drugs for their contribution in the treatment of several dangerous medical conditions. ‘Teriparatide’ is a steroid being used to treat ‘Osteoporosis’. It tends to prevent fractures by strengthening the bones of the patient. Arthritis and several other forms of cancer are known to be treated with controlled administration of steroids in the patient’s body. Steroids also reduce body fat which helps obese patients shed all those extra pounds. They are also being used to treat injuries suffered from major accidents as they improve the recovery speed dramatically. Steroids are also responsible to regulate an overactive immune system which may cause unnecessary inflammations .
- Steroids have proved to be a positive accelerator of red blood cell production.
Red blood cell concentrations are directly dependent on the blood’s oxygen carrying capability and an increase in production will clearly have numerous advantages for the body, including the treatment for anemia. This positive effect however is always mentioned but and not duly acknowledged.
- Steroids greatly enhance athletic performance for the user. Users will experience more energy and stamina levels after they have used steroids. They will also find the training and the ability to push towards new limits during training easier. An unprecedented intensity is felt by the user.
- Steroids also improve a user’s physical strength and his endurance levels. This is one of the reasons why bodybuilders are greatly attracted toward steroids.
- Steroids are a boon for males who are having sexual performance problems. Testosterone replacement therapy is a procedure that involves introducing testosterone to those bodies which are not capable of producing them anymore at the required levels. The testosterone is administered through steroids. Since testosterone production differs from person to person, there is no set standard for the amount of testosterone a body needs to produce. However, external testosterone administration has helped males and have shown positive acceptance among users.
- Steroids are given to HIV positive and cancer patients. Steroids have helped to restore appetite and have even helped to regulate decreasing muscle mass in HIV and cancer patients. Due to this, such patients have the opportunity to be in better health and have an enhanced feeling of well-being.
Steroids introduce the user to an unprecedented improvement in physical prowess which can influence some of them to abuse steroids in the quest for perfection. This is how they are likely to end up experiencing the many side effects of steroids.
Due to the growing popularity of steroid abuse throughout the world, horrific side effects of steroid usage have come forward in recent years. The side effects of steroid abuse overwhelmingly outnumber the positives related to steroid use. Here are some of the many negative side effects that have been related to steroid use:
- Steroids are known to adversely affect the brain of a user. Various studies have reflected a pattern between abnormal testosterone levels and aggressive behavior in steroid users. Usershave been found to indulge in violent acts and steroid use has been often used as an excuse. Users of high dosage steroids have often been troubled with psychotic tendencies and heightened levels of anxiety. Other effects include loss of sleep, euphoric tendencies, paranoia, and depression among many others. Users are also known to have exhibited extreme mood swings and in extreme cases, formations of split personalities have been reported. Steroid users are also likely to become more and more dependent on steroids which may lead to an unhealthy addiction.
- Steroids are also known to have caused side effects that are visible on a user’s face. Research shows that steroid use leads to higher water retention in the user’s body causing them to develop a round face with puffy cheeks. Facial hair eruptions in females have also been reported. Bad breath is also a common side effect. The development of a husky voice in female users is quiet common. Acne formation on the face and throughout the body is one of the easily visible side effects caused by steroid use.
- Steroids are known to cause eye damage as well. Corticosteroids are known to cause permanent eye damage to long-term users. Eye infections are being reported by users too. Complicated eye disorders like cataract and glaucoma are known fallouts of steroid use .
- Steroids are also known to cause hair damage. Male pattern baldness has been observed in users of both sexes. Steroids facilitate the production of dihydrotestosterone or DHT that are responsible for causing hair follicles to weaken and shrink drastically. As a result, the follicles are able to produce only fine hair. Gradually, with sustained use of steroids the user is likely to experience permanent hair loss with decreasing hair follicles.
- Steroid users should be aware of the complications that prolonged steroid use can cause to the heart. It has been observed that users continue to take this side effect lightly until a serious cardiovascular issue comes to the fore. Steroids cause heart diseases and it becomes more evident with consistent increase in cumulative cholesterol levels. Cholesterol buildup has been observed on the walls of blood vessels in steroid users which may result in fatal heart strokes. Steroids cause massive reduction in good cholesterol (HDL) levels and dramatic increase in bad cholesterol levels (LDL). Blood pressure is also known to be high in steroid users and they are also likely to experience increased clots in blood vessels. This will cause a disruption in blood flow affecting the heart muscle and increasing the risk of a heart attack to the user.
- Steroid users are known to suffer from several disorders related to the stomach. Users may feel that their stomachs are bloated and this can be an uncomfortable experience. Nausea followed by rounds of vomiting, which may at times contain visible traces of blood have been reported by steroid users. Steroids cause irritation on the stomach lining, sustained development of stomach acids, with a degradation of stomach mucus levels that are likely to cause nausea and vomiting.
- Kidneys are a critical part of the human body responsible for the expulsion of waste material from the blood stream. They are also regulators of salt and water levels in the body and blood pressure. High blood pressure causes considerable damage to the blood vessels as well as the filtration system of the kidneys. Usage of oral steroids causes most of the issues in kidneys. There is a noticeable increase in the average blood clotting time in users since the blood clotting factors will be suppressed.
Consumption of oral steroids leads to the dilution of hormones in the bloodstream making the job of the kidneys harder and causing a lot of strain on them. Steroid users who practice bodybuilding or forms of athletics are also on high protein diets and take a high amount of protein supplements. This may lead to formation of kidney stone which will require a surgery to be removed. Kidney stones tend to shut down the opening to the urinary tract inhibiting the user’s ability to expel urine and retain harmful waste in the bloodstream. High blood pressure damages the blood vessels in the kidney by altering their proportion. Damaged blood vessels result in poor blood supply and repress the filtration capacity of the user’s kidneys.
- Steroids are also known to have negative repercussions for the liver which is the largest organ in the human body. The liver is responsible for the filtration of harmful toxins from the blood and it also acts a storage unit for certain important nutrients like vitamins and other minerals. It also manages the levels of chemicals like cholesterol, proteins, and sugars. Liver is also the production unit of the digestive juice ‘Bile’ which is extremely critical for the human body to effectively digest food intake.
Prolonged and unsupervised steroid use will likely cause irreparable damage to the liver and may also lead to cancerous growth in the liver. The liver finds it extremely strenuous to metabolize oral steroids which hamper its ability to clear waste products efficiently. Retention of waste material can lead to many other complications in the human body. Counterfeit steroids readily available in the market are known to carry various kinds of bacteria and viruses which adversely affect the functioning of the liver. Ailments like the Hepatocellular jaundice that can be identified by the yellowing of the eyes and skin are caused by an abnormally functioning liver, as the liver fails to effectively filter the toxins from the bloodstream.
- The development of breasts known as Gynecomastia is another common side effect of steroid use. It is often seen in users who have been long time users of steroids or those who have been using steroids in large doses. A breast tissue is formed in the man’s chest which gradually takes the formation of lumps under the nipples. Timely surgical intervention is needed to remove these lumps or further complications like cancerous growth may entail. In females, breasts are known to show signs of shrinkage.
- Steroids are also known to inhibit bone growth which can lead to lesser height in adulthood due to the untimely closing of the epiphyseal growth plates. This is particularly common in users who abuse steroids during their teenage years or early twenties. Bone pain is another recorded side effect of steroid use.
- Steroids also affect the muscles and tendons of users adversely. Steroid use brings a false sense of strength in the user, which results in him pushing the limits and trying to perform arduous physical tasks which he is actually incapable of. This often leads to muscle tears. Also, due to the accelerated strengthening of the muscles initiated by steroids, the tendons are likely to cave in to the pressure and a rupture may occur.
- Steroid use can adversely affect the user’s skin. The user’s skin pores get damaged causing an identifiable roughness in the texture of the user’s skin. Other skin conditions that have been observed are red blotchy, greasy skin with acne formation on the back as well as on the face. Thinning of the skin and accelerated muscle growth could also lead to the appearance of stretch marks. The impact of steroids on the liver causes jaundice which leads to the skin turning yellow in color.
- Steroids can potentially impair the user’s immune function to deplorable levels with problems and severe effects likely to follow after a period of time. Users with a reduced immune function are at risk of high exposure to many diseases and their capability to fight diseases are also hugely diminished.
- Steroids are known to cause Oedema. Oedema is the condition where the user appears to be bloated. This appearance is caused by the accumulation of fluids which is most visible as swollen fingers and ankles.
- Steroids also cause harm to the prostate gland in males. The prostate gland is responsible for the production of the prostatic fluid. This fluid is a key component of semen and regulates seminal activity. Steroids cause the prostate gland to engorge. The prostate gland’s swelling disrupts urine flow as it surrounds the urethra. Males are likely to suffer from impaired sexual activity due to the changes in the prostate gland. Sperm quantity and quality is also likely to be adversely affected. Harm to the prostate gland basically renders the male impotent.
- Steroid users who are illegally abusing steroids are often frightened to go to the chemist to obtain fresh supply of needles for the fear of being labeled as drug addicts. This causes them to recycle used needles or share used needles that can lead to the transmission of dangerous infections like HIV and many others. The injection site can become tender and swollen causing abscesses that lead to medical intervention which can be painful.
- Steroids are also known to lead to impotence. Steroid use hampers the normal functioning of the testes. Administration of testosterone through artificial causes the pituitary gland to signal the testes to stop production of testosterone. When users stop using steroids, it takes a while for the testes to resume normal functioning. In some cases the testes may never return to normal functioning. Long-term use of steroids may cause a loss in erections as consistent steroid abuse disrupts blood flow to the penile region .
Despite the numerous risks associated with steroid abuse, users continue to abuse steroids for their aspirations to outperform in athletics or achieve physical perfection. Although there are pros to steroid use, the cons outweigh them and it is highly unadvisable for individuals to resort to steroid abuse to satisfy their ego. There are people who will justify use of steroids no matter what, as their philosophy is that in the end the benefits are worth a few side effects. Users indulging in short-term steroid use will escape with minor side effects but long-term users may face devastating side effects that may have irreversible repercussions.
Managing the side effects of steroids
According to research, the side effects of steroids can be managed to a large extent by working in tandem with your doctor and working out an effective health plan. Users under steroid medication need to work toward side effect management to avoid serious complications that are associated with steroid use and steroid withdrawal. It is very important to assess and understand the long-term consequences that follow the usage of steroids. Users have to be extremely disciplined while managing the side effects of steroids. Some of the steps users can take towards managing the side effects of steroids are as follows:
- An improved and well regulated diet should be the first step to manage the side effects of steroids. Steroids increase blood sugar levels which leaves the user exposed to the risk of diabetes. High sugar content in the body is also known to cause migraine headache, fatigue, and confusion. It is advisable to regulate your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Go for regular blood sugar tests, and ask your doctor to keep updating your diet chart accordingly. This is particularly advisable for long-term users of steroids. It is critical that you lower your salt intake as it also leads to increase in blood pressure .
- Regular exercise is another step to manage the side effects that may be caused by steroids. Steroids are known to cause muscle weakness. Exercises and other physical activities which test your muscles are advisable to effectively strengthen the muscles. You should however avoid pushing the limits as steroids give a false sense of strength at times. A good exercise plan should be designed and implemented. Consulting a physical trainer would be a good idea in this regard as they are in the best position to suggest you a good exercise plan which would suit your needs accordingly. Exercising also greatly reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- There are supplements today in the market which make up for mineral deficiencies. These should definitely be utilized by the user as supplements tend to restore mineral resources in the body which may have been diminished due to the use of steroids. Users should particularly stock up on calcium and vitamin D as these are the key minerals that prevent bone loss, which can be caused by steroids .
- Users should also take steps in order to reduce stress. They should identify an activity which they enjoy doing and must do it daily. Ideally, meditation as well as yoga are great stress busters but users can take up something as simple as reading. They should select one according to their personal comfort. It is essential that users put in as much effort to maintain their emotional health as they put in to maintain their physical health as both are correlated to each other.
- Steroid users should avoid habits like smoking and drinking when they are under steroid therapy. Steroids don’t go well with the toxins that tobacco and alcohol introduce in the body. If the user is addicted to any of the two habits, then he should enroll for therapy as soon as possible. Failure to adhere to this step will expose the user to severe health complications.
- Steroid users should always keep the instructional manual of the steroids handy. This gives them the ability to react to side effects on a firsthand basis and avoid mistakes regarding dosage.
Many patients find it difficult to treat the medical condition they are suffering from without the long-term use of steroids and often steroids are the only medication available for certain ailments. With the effective implementation of the aforementioned steps users can learn to cope effectively with the side effects of steroids.
Steroid withdrawal is the time period when the body starts to react and adjust to the reduction in intake of steroids until no steroids are being taken by the individual. During this period, the body gradually starts manufacturing its own hormones to fill up the void left by the reduction in steroids.
Withdrawal symptoms can be seen in short-term users of steroids as well. It is extremely critical to be in touch with your physician while using steroids. Patients should carry the necessary medication prescribed by the doctor so that they can travel without fear and get instant help if any complications arise. The physician should decide when to start and stop the administration of steroids to reduce the effects of the symptoms and eliminate the chances of serious complications which may arise due to withdrawal. Patients who stop high-dose administrations of steroids are at maximum risk of developing a major medical complication.
Quite a lot of steroid hormones in the human body are produced by the adrenal gland. Sometimes the production of hormones fails to match the requirements of the body for various reasons. This is why patients are administered steroids that act as supplements to the natural hormone production.
In some cases, a doctor knowingly increases the levels of steroids in a patient’s body to effectively treat inflammation. Because of external administration of steroids, the body tends to adapt to the changes by reducing natural steroid production. When the external administration is reduced, and eventually cut off, the adrenal gland will react to the low levels of hormone by producing hormones and hormone production will be increased .
Effects of steroid withdrawal
Effects of steroid withdrawal are known to emulate and kick start many other medical complications as well. Weakness, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea (further resulting in liquid and electrolyte complications), as well as abdominal pain are some of the most common effects that steroid withdrawal is often associated with. Constant decrease in blood pressure which simultaneously causes a person to faint or causes fits and dizziness are other complications the steroid use can cause.
Blood sugar levels are known to have dropped in many people who consume steroids. In women, menstrual changes have been reported widely. Muscle and joint pains, fever, changes in mentality, as well as elevation in calcium levels have been reported in some cases. Gastrointestinal contractions decrease dramatically which may ultimately lead to the swelling of the intestine .
Steroid users need to keep in constant touch with their doctors during the period of steroid withdrawal. This is because the doctor needs to be constantly updated with how the patient is doing without steroid medications and how his vitals are coping without supplementary steroid administration. The user should follow the doctor’s prescription as specified by him and should clear all his apprehensions during scheduled appointments with the doctor. The users need to report all suspected complications, however miniscule they may be, to their doctor for timely assessment. This helps the doctor to identify potential complications of steroid withdrawal before they can grow into a major concern for the patient.
Things to keep in mind
Taking into account various research as well as studies by experts over various forms of media it is safe to say that the negative effects of steroids outweighs the positives. But the differences in opinion are polarizing across individuals. It has to be accepted that steroids do have various advantages as well. They are the only known medication for quite a few diseases and most side effects only occur because of steroid abuse, and not regulated consumption of steroids. While critics may call for a ban on steroids, there are many up in arms justifying why steroids are a necessity. Ultimately, it will always go down to which side of the spectrum you are on.
Enthusiasts who are willing to try steroids need to keep quite a few things in mind before they take the leap. First and foremost, it is important to identify the particular steroid you are planning to use and you need to do your own research about the steroid. Ask yourself whether you really need the steroid or you are better off without the consumption of it. If you want it take the steroid,don’t take the shortcut that many users take. Get a doctor’s advice on whether you should or should not take the steroid. Discuss the side effects you may have to deal with in the long run and ask your doctor whether the side effects can be managed. After you have weighed all the pros and cons of using steroids you need to make a final decision.
If you go for steroid administration you will notice considerable changes in a few days. You will see considerable improvements in your physique and your abilities will continue to surprise you with each passing day. Design a workout regime which will give you the most of the positive effects of the steroid use. If you are a bodybuilder, you have to understand that you are not magically going to get a dream physique overnight. Dedicated hard work is a must and be prepared to spend long, excruciating hours in the gym.
The overwhelming impact that a steroid has on users can tempt him to overuse the drug and be greedy for more. This is where you need to control your craving for more steroids because steroid abuse can lead to terrible health consequences and complications. Always keep in touch with your doctor and notify him of your progress. Also, keep an eye out for any side effects, however small they might be, and discuss them with your doctor on your next scheduled visit.
Maintain a journal in which you can record your daily progress that can be used for future reference too. Browse the internet for forums where you can interact with other steroid users and compare results with them. There is useful insight that can be found on the internet but do not easily trust the person at the other end and always trust and follow your doctor’s judgment.
If you are facing uncomfortable steroid side effects after using steroids, consult your doctor and get yourself prescribed medication for treating the side effects caused. Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully or else these side effects could blow out of proportion and turn into a major health complication. When you would want to get off steroid administration, don’t do so without consulting your doctor.
Steroid withdrawal requires planning and is a step by step process which can only be implemented with the help of a doctor. There are many symptoms that are likely to show after a person stops the intake of steroids. Your doctor will write you some prescription medicine to take care of these concerns and you should be able to rehabilitate quite well if you follow the instructions accordingly. Carry the prescription as well as the medicines with you at all times so that you can use them in case of any emergency.