The Low Down on Anabolic Steroids

What are anabolic steroids?

There are two types of steroids – corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids include drugs such as prednisone, cortisone, depomedrol and celestone and are useful because of their strong anti-inflammatory properties. Corticosteroids are prescribed by physicians for the treatment of many medical problems. Anabolic steroids include drugs such as Stanozolol, Danazol, Nandrolone and Androl. They are synthetic substances that are structurally very similar to the male sex hormone – testosterone.

Who uses anabolic steroids?

It is estimated that over a million North Americans are currently using anabolic steroids and many of these users are teenagers.

Fifty percent of these people use anabolic steroids hoping to improve their physical performance and the other half do so hoping to improve their physical appearance. People employed in occupations where physical fitness and size are important to success are more likely to resort to using anabolic steroids. These occupations would include professional athletes, police officers, fire fighters, bouncers and soldiers.

Do anabolic steroids work?

The scientific community was slow admitting it but the truth is that anabolic steroids really do work. They can help improve athletic performance by reducing fatigue, increasing muscle production, enhancing aggressiveness, increasing nitrogen retention, improving calcium levels in bone and elevating hemoglobin levels. To be effective they must be taken in combination with a high protein diet and an intense resistance training program. While anabolic steroids do work, they are considered dangerous substances because of their potential to cause some very serious side effects.

Are there side effects from using anabolic steroids?

There is a frightening list of potential physical and psychological side effects associated with anabolic steroid use. This list has been compiled from research on people taking relatively low doses of anabolic steroids compared to the extraordinary amounts that some people admit to taking. There are individuals who claim to be simultaneously taking huge doses of as many as 14 different anabolic steroids. No one knows what the long-term consequences of such extraordinary abuse will be. The following is a brief list of some of the side effects associated with anabolic steroid use:

  • Male side effects: men taking anabolic steroids can experience breast enlargement, shrinking of the testicles, impotence, prostate enlargement and reduced sperm count.
  • Female side effects: women taking anabolic steroids can experience increased facial hair, enlargement of the clitoris, reduced breast size, male pattern baldness, irregular periods and deepening of the voice. Unfortunately, these maculinizing effects are permanent.
  • Common physical side effects: all steroid users can experience tremor, acne, impaired immune system function, increased blood pressure, liver tumors, hepatitis, elevated cholesterol levels and premature bony maturation.
  • Common psychological side effects: the psychological effects of anabolic steroid use can be very significant and include – aggressiveness, hallucinations, sleep disturbance, anti-social behaviour, paranoia and emotional volatility. Strong feelings of depression often occur when people stop taking these drugs and although physical addiction to anabolic steroids does not occur, people can become psychologically dependent on them. Anabolic steroid users often become obsessed with developing a larger physique.

How are anabolic steroids taken?

Anabolic steroids can be taken in one of two ways – orally or by intramuscular injection. Steroid users often chose to inject their anabolic steroids in an effort to avoid some of the side effects that are only associated with taking steroids in pill form. Individuals may also unknowingly be taking anabolic steroids if they are present in one or more of their dietary supplements.

The Bottom Line! While anabolic steroids do work to help individuals build muscle, these dangerous substances should be avoided because of their long list of potentially serious side effects.

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