Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medicines, although many people often use them without medical advice for increasing their muscle mass and improving athletic performance, which, unfortunately, can lead them into anabolic steroid addiction.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs, mimicking testosterone, which is the male sex hormone. Anabolic Steroid or Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids - The word “anabolic” refers to the drug’s muscle-building effects, and “androgenic” refers to its masculinizing effects.
Corticosteroids are another type of steroid, which should not be confused with anabolic steroids as long as Corticosteroids, (such as prednisone), are mostly used for treating allergic reactions. These steroids do not have the same effects as anabolic steroids, for they can not facilitate muscle growth and never mimic the male sex hormone.
Anabolic steroids are available with a prescription and have important medical applications. Doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to treat several medical conditions, including:
- Delayed puberty, especially in adolescent boys
- Hormone imbalances in men
- Breast cancer
- Muscle loss due to disease
- Certain types of anemia
- Weight loss in individuals with HIV
- Other hormonal conditions
Anabolic steroids activate components of DNA in muscle cells that increase the production of the proteins that build muscle tissues and fibers. This results in increased muscle growth and body mass in short periods of time. These components also increase bone minerals and impact the function of the immune, reproductive, central nervous, and other body systems and organs.
Anabolic steroids come in the form of pills, injectable liquids, and topical gels or creams. Street names for anabolic steroids include juice, stackers, roids, and hype. Some of the most common steroid brands include:
Some steroid abusers have even been known to use veterinary steroids such as Equipoise as long as these drugs are usually not expensive, produce similar results, and are more accessible.
Anabolic Steroids are Addictive
Anabolic steroids are addictive due to two primary factors. The first is the behavior of many individuals with substance use disorders, the compulsive need to seek out and use anabolic steroids. The second is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms due to when the user cuts back or stops using steroids completely. The obsessive-compulsive behavior to keep using anabolic steroids usually starts when the steroids improve physical appearance and strength in a short amount of time, so there is a big chance that eventually results in an addiction developing.
Individuals with a history of substance use disorders are at higher risk of abusing anabolic steroids. This is also true of individuals who have co-occurring disorders, especially body dysmorphia, as they may find themselves continuously using steroids to “keep improving,” even after they have reached their original goal.
Prescribed or Illegally Obtained
Anabolic steroids are either prescribed or illegally obtained by individuals who want to appear stronger and develop muscle mass in a short period of time, often resulting in increased confidence and self-esteem.
There are more than 100 types of anabolic steroids, and only a fraction of them have been approved for medical use.
These steroids chemically can not produce euphoria or a “high” like a typical addictive substance,, however, people who regularly abuse these drugs are at risk of developing a severe addiction. The desire to continue feeling good about oneself and achieve a desired appearance can quickly take over, fueling greater and greater use. Any time a medication is used without a prescription or beyond its medical scope, intended purpose, at higher doses, or increased frequencies than prescribed, it is considered abuse.
Steroid Effects and Abuse
Any use of anabolic steroids without a doctor’s prescription is abuse. It’s also illegal. Those abusing anabolic steroids often take much larger doses than would ever be prescribed, in some cases 10 to 100 times larger. Anabolic steroids change how the body builds muscle. During exercise, people create small tears in their muscles. When it heals, the muscle tissue becomes stronger than before. Anabolic steroids quicken the healing process. This helps people exercise harder, more often, and with greater results.
Some individuals who abuse anabolic steroids for extended periods of time eventually reach a high tolerance, resulting in the use of two or more different steroids at the same time, called “stacking.” This places individuals at a much greater risk of negative side-effects and/or health risks.
People abuse anabolic steroids to change their physical appearance and abilities. Some athletes and bodybuilders use steroids for a competitive edge. Bodybuilders may use the drugs to get bigger, feel stronger, and increase their confidence. Some football players use steroids before a game to feel more aggressive. For years, several major league baseball players have taken steroids for more power at the bat. All of this despite the fact that is illegal and against professional codes to use steroids in sports.
For many, the pressure to stay competitive is a major factor in the decision to use steroids. However, many people taking steroids just want to look better.
How do People Abuse Anabolic Steroids?
There are three common ways people abuse anabolic steroids:
Stacking is taking multiple types of steroids at once or mixing oral and injectable formulations. Many steroid abusers believe stacking increases results, but this method has not been scientifically proven.
Cycling is a process of taking steroids during predetermined periods of time, usually 6-12 weeks. Users who are cycling take multiple doses for several weeks, stop for several weeks, and then start taking the steroids again. Steroid abusers use off-cycles to allow the body to produce its own testosterone and to reduce damage to internal organs.
Pyramiding is a method of taking steroids during a cycle. At the beginning of the cycle, users start with a low dose and gradually increase to a maximum dose of mid-cycle. In the second half of the cycle, the user slowly tapers down their steroid dose.
According to the leading scientific research, none of these methods have been verified, nor do they reduce the risks or side effects of anabolic steroid use.
Even though males make up the majority of those abusing steroids, females also turn to drugs for a better physique. In an article for the New York Times, one woman described her decision to take steroids as a teenager. Dionne Roberts was a popular cheerleader who wanted six-pack abs.