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Back to Health A to Z. Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medicines that are sometimes taken without medical advice to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance. If used in this way, they can cause serious side effects and addiction.
Anabolic steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone. They have limited medical uses and aren't to be confused with corticosteroids , a different type of steroid drug that's commonly prescribed for a variety of conditions. This page explains the dangers of misusing anabolic steroids, and aims to advise and support those who are addicted to the drugs. Anabolic steroids are class C drugs, which can only be sold by pharmacists with a prescription. It's legal to have anabolic steroids for personal use.
They can also be imported or exported, as long as this is carried out in person. This means they can't be posted or delivered by a courier or freight service. However, it's illegal to possess, import or export anabolic steroids if it's believed you're supplying or selling them. This includes giving them to friends. The penalty is an unlimited fine, or even a prison sentence of up to 14 years. In professional sport, most organisations ban anabolic steroid use and test competitors for banned steroids.
Anabolic steroids can be used as performance-enhancing drugs that increase muscle mass and decrease fat, as well as causing many undesirable effects. Some athletes, weightlifters and bodybuilders take them regularly to improve their physical performance and build up their bodies. However, people of all ages have been known to misuse these drugs, including adolescent boys who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.
This is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. Boys and men who have body dysmorphic disorder may take anabolic steroids because they don't see themselves as being physically big enough or strong enough. Some people believe taking anabolic steroids will help them become fit and healthy.
This isn't true: taking anabolic steroids is a dangerous drug habit. Anabolic steroids are usually injected into the muscle or taken by mouth as tablets, but they also come as creams or gels that are applied to the skin. Many people who use anabolic steroids are aware of the dangers of taking them, and believe that by taking the drugs in certain ways they can avoid side effects.
But there is no evidence that any of these methods actually reduce side effects from taking anabolic steroids. Users tend to exercise more when they're taking high doses to make the most of their improved performance during this time. Regularly taking anabolic steroids can lead to physical and psychological changes in both men and women, as well as potentially dangerous medical conditions. In addition, both men and women who take anabolic steroids can develop any of the following medical conditions:.
Specifically, breast size and body fat decrease, the skin becomes coarse, and the voice deepens. It is commonly believed that anabolic steroids will produce irreversible enlargement of the clitoris in females, although there are no studies on this. Many people who inject anabolic steroids may use nonsterile injection techniques or share contaminated needles with other users.
This puts these steroid users at risk for acquiring life threatening viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Steroid misuse has been associated with liver damage, 50,51 tumors, 46,52,53 and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Rising levels of testosterone and other sex hormones normally trigger the growth spurt that occurs during puberty and adolescence.
These rising levels of testosterone also provide the signals to stop growth. Evidence suggests that weightlifters who misuse anabolic steroids have stiffer tendons, which could lead to an increased risk for tendon injury. Steroid misuse can cause acne, 70—72 hair loss on the head, cysts, and oily hair and skin.
Anabolic steroids can also produce jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, as a result of damage to the liver. National Institutes of Health. Drug Topics. More Drug Topics. Quick Links. About NIDA. Research Report.
More testosterone means your body can leverage protein better to build more muscle and burn more fat. Steroids do typically improve strength and power, according to a meta-analysis authored by Kersey and a team of researchers. That makes sense, considering steroids help increase muscle mass.
As with any drug, there are side effects. And he means literally—most of the damage steroids do is internal, so an abuser can go months or even years without realizing the havoc their habit is causing. For starters, steroids can seriously damage your heart. In a study of male lifters 34 to 54 years old , lifters who had been using anabolic steroids for more than two cumulative years of their life had more myocardial dysfunction—a level of damage commonly seen after a heart attack.
Consistent steroid users also had accelerated plaque in their coronary arteries compared to lifters who had never touched steroids. Steroid abuse also makes your blood thicker, so it can increase your risk of blood clots. This puts endurance athletes at an especially high risk, since being dehydrated like from long, grueling rides also increases your risk of a clot, and thereby for a pulmonary embolism, Goldberg says. Abusing steroids has the same effect.
When your body senses you have enough of a hormone, it suppresses the pituitary gland and shuts off production of that hormone. The main effect of this: Your testicles shrink and you become infertile. While natural production will eventually start again if you stay off of steroids, returning to normal can take months or even years. A Harvard study of former steroid-using bodybuilders who had been clean for three to 26 months found that the now-clean lifters still had significantly smaller testicles, lower serum testosterone, and lower libido compared to guys who had never used steroids.
Because steroid use floods your body with testosterone, men experience symptoms we usually connect with going through puberty, except even more extreme: acne on the face, back, and chest; mood swings; hair growth in some places; even breast enlargement, known as gynecomastia. Kids who start taking steroids during puberty will also experience stunted growth, because since an overdose of testosterone freezes the growth plate—and that effect is permanent, Goldberg says.
They will never reach their full genetic height. Because steroids are hormones, steroid abuse has psychological effects. Hence: Guys who are on a steroid cycle have less inhibition control and are more likely to be impulsive and aggressive than guys who are off their cycle, according to a study in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Among more than 10, Swedes, those who used steroids for years on end—especially in conjunction with other substances like alcohol or other drugs—were significantly more likely to be convicted of a violent crime than guys who never reached for steroids, according to one study published in Addiction.
One last point: Because steroids have all these side effects, a lot of abusers will then take other drugs to offset the effect—steroid abuse causes you to grow man-boobs, so people take another drug to mitigate those side effects. That means on top of all these side effects of steroids, most abusers are also looking at a whole separate list of effects from their peripheral drug habits.
Read more here about the side effects and myths of steroid use. For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube! Wow, why would anyone want to use these steroids with these types of side effects. I was terrified after reading this article just thinking about what could happen to someone using these drugs. I know the temptation and the pressure is there to do these things but you have to resist. I can see this. Between body chemistry and physical make up things are very different.
I have seen how steroids effect men and have witnessed the changes they go through and personality changes they experience along with violent mood swings. In women, I have witnessed the major changes these steroids can have on the physicality of women like facial hair, menastration problems, etc.
Their bodies are still developing and using substances like steroids can really have a negative effect on them. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. One of the most prominent questions on our minds today is whether certain individuals are more vulnerable to contracting …. Americans are drinking a lot of alcohol. Although, as humans, we have the freedom to choose to drink, …. Big-city dwellers often dream of relocating to a cozy small town to escape the increasing crime, drug abuse, and stress.
For Immediate Treatment Help Call: Drug Rehabilitation Blog. Masculinization and Feminization Effects of Steroid Use One of the effects of steroid use for women is masculinization. Cardiovascular Issues Associated with Steroid Use Cardiovascular issues are included in the harmful side effects of steroids that affect both men and women. While using a steroid based inhaler for asthma, I have gained 20 pounds. Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.