Anabolic steroids are similar to testosterone which is the male sex hormone. When taken they increase muscle size and the development of male gender sexual characteristics. First developed in the 1930s to treat a medical condition in which the testes do not produce enough testosterone for normal male development and growth. They were first used to treat delayed puberty in males, impotence and body wasting due to disease. Scientists further discovered in the 1930s that the steroids facilitated the growth of muscle mass which led to compound also being used by weightlifters and body builders. Steroids then became so widespread by athletes that it began to influence the outcome of sporting events.
There are over 100 different anabolic steroids on the market today. All require a prescription in the United States. The most popular ones are Winstrol, Anadrol and Dianabol. Anabolic steroids are classified as a Schedule III controlled substance under federal regulation. Except in New York State where the legislature classifies anabolic steroids under DEA Schedule II.
One of the main reasons individuals report using steroids is to improve their performance in sports. Steroid use is highest among competitive body builders. Other reasons individuals use steroids is to build their muscle size, define or “cut” the appearance of their muscles and to lose weigh or body fat. The latter group can include individuals with body dysmorphia. Individuals with body or muscle dysmorphia have a distorted image of their appearance. They may think they look overweight or small or weak when this is not the case in reality.
Steroids are commonly administered orally as pills, injected or as a skin patch. Orally is most common but the steroids must be chemically modified to be taken orally. They are modified so the liver cannot break the steroid down before it reaches the circulation system. This can lead to liver damage in high doses. Injectable steroids are injected directly into the muscle, not into a vein as with other drugs used to alter mood. Adhesive patches placed on the skin are used to deliver a steady dose through the skin into the bloodstream
In the United States, supplements such as DHEA and androstenedione commonly referred to as Andro can be legally purchased without a doctor’s prescription. They are often sold at health food stores and commercially online and packaged as dietary supplements; however they are not food products. In large quantities these supplements substantially increase testosterone levels in the body and produce an effect much like anabolic steroids.
Abusing anabolic steroids can cause several adverse effects. The effects depend on the dosage taken and the length of time an individual has been taking steroids. The effects observed are as follows:
*High blood pressure and hypertension
*Harmful changes in cholesterol levels
*Increased risk of cardiovascular or coronary artery disease
*Liver damage and liver cancer
*Development of breast tissue in males (gynecomastia)
*Reduced sexual function
*Increased body hair in females
*Premature baldness in males
*Enlargement and thickening of the left heart ventricle
*Congestive heart failure
*”Roid Rage” (a controversial condition of increased rage)