Androgenic anabolic steroids were first created in the late 1930’s by the Germans, and were tested on dogs and later on soldiers. The Germans used them to keep prisoners alive who were dying due to malnutrition and to make their soldiers more aggressive during battle. After the war, doctors in Europe and the U.S. used steroids to treat anemia, malnutrition, and to help patients recover faster from surgery. Two decades later, Dr. Zeigler found that testosterone was the key ingredient in these steroids and soon they were out on the market and readily available. In the well-documented case of the 1976 Olympics, the East German women’s swim team set records and swept the competition. It was later discovered that the team’s doctor and the head of the East German sports federation had given them anabolic steroids which lead to their many unfair victories. Steroids are commonly used in medical practice, curing such things as allergic reaction and arthritis, but also more serous illnesses like some types of cancer. Steroids are also obvious quick fixes for hormone deficiencies or abnormal production, and to imitate stimulation of muscle building androgens (Dempsey 443). They are most often used to replace testosterone in ill-functioning or non-existent testes. The controversial uses today are commonly seen when teens as well as adults (both men and women) use steroids, which are now illegal in the United States, to “bulk up” and/or to achieve better performance in whatever sport they may play. They assist in healing muscles faster, reducing the amount of down time the athlete will need and increasing the amount of time that can be spent at the gym.
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Weight lifters, body builders, and athletes who feel that they need an extra edge to compete above and beyond their competitors commonly use anabolic steroids. They want to be bigger, stronger, work out longer/more often and enhance their athletic performance (Yesalis/Cowart, 40). Approximately ј million prescriptions were written in 2001, and surely many more than that were doses which were handed out illegally (August, 13). High school males are the prime abusers of this drug with around 12 percent admitting to have used them by the time they were seniors (Belliner 48).
Females cannot be written out of the equation though they only make up a minute part of it. One percent of high school seniors say the have taken steroids in the past year; this amounts to about 175,000 student athletes. Professional athletes, especially baseball and football players, are well-known steroid users. Steve Courson, a now avid speaker against the use of anabolics, once took a great part in the steroid: “Courson was a man of legendary strength; he dominated the NFL Strongest Man competitions from 1980 to 1982 and once bench pressed 605 pounds. He believes steroids gave him an edge in developing strength and power.” (Yesalis 15) Angel Meyers was a swimmer in the 1976 Olympic Games and is the only person from the U.S. to test positive while competing. She broke world records that year and after she was found guilty, those records were revoked and she spent one year and four months suspended from any Olympic participation. Androgenic anabolic steroids have been illegal in the United States for almost 25 years. They are however, legal in many European countries as well as Mexico. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recently reported that individuals from Russia, Romania, and Greece frequently smuggle steroids into the U.S. from their countries. Consequences for possession of this drug vary from 4 years of jail time, probation and a $1000 fine, depending on the state in which the offense took place.
Many athletes, especially younger ones, overlook the fact that steroids have enormous negative effects, some which can be life threatening. Some short term effects can be reversed such as shrunken testicles in men, severe acne, trembling, breast development in men and facial hair growth in women. Long-term effects which are irreversible include jaundice, liver tumors, strokes, and heart failure. Most commonly found in steroid abusers are liver and heart diseases which are potentially life-threatening. Though no hard evidence exists that steroids cause stroke and/or heart attacks, there is wide suspicion by doctors worldwide. Liver diseases such as jaundice and tumors are also very common. Women who take anabolics slightly heighten their risk of developing breast cancer, loss of hair on their head, and enlargement of the clitoris. These symptoms are usually irreversible. Women also experience the same permanent and temporary effects as men. Anabolics also cause psychological effects due to steroid receptors in the brain that control mood and judgment if the steroids are administered in large regular doses. These side effects include aggression, over competitiveness, and even violence. Dependence on this drug from frequent and high dosage causes depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, as well as decreased sex drive and other symptoms.
Although the dangers of prolonged or even short-term use of anabolic steroids are greatly publicized and evident, athletes continue using them. They do this because they believe that the results are better than the side effects. It gives them an extra push, more endurance, and allows them to spend more time improving on their performance due to the athletes, they simply like the increased muscle mass and decreased body fat that they experience in a shorter amount of time. An ironic aspect of this is that many steroid users refuse to take any illegal drugs fearing failing health or that they will jeopardize their athletic performance. Other reasons for steroid use have been for individuals’ protection. There have been reports of physical or sexual abuse in their childhood years, and some use steroids to “make sure” that that will never happen to them again. Many women weightlifters who have been reaped say that being bigger will either intimidate men or make them unattractive.
In the United States, there is not much going on to sop the use of steroids by athletes or any others. On March 1, 1991, the United States Congress issued the Federal Anabolic Control Act, which made all anabolic steroids a Schedule III controlled substance. The use of this substance is considered as drug use because the amounts taken for muscle growth or athletic performance far exceed that taken for medical purposes. However, there is not much emphasis put on the distribution and/or abuse of these drugs. More is put on marijuana and such substances which have fewer side effects and less serious risks. One thing commonly thought to prevent use of steroids is the obviously surprise drug tests on athletes. This method is practically ineffective according to Dr. Yesalis: “Drug tests catch only stupid, careless and foolish people.” (Kindred 1) Serious athletes can test negative on these test by knowing a few simple tricks such as, taking the pills with a masking agent, flushing out his system within a couple of days of taking the pills, using human growth hormone, or insulin-like growth factor I which don’t have test for, or taking undetectable potions by a famous designer (Kindred 2). Other steps have been taken to educate people by a program called Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids. The program consists of a group of educational sitting that include information about steroids as well as nutrition and weight training. ATLAS uses an approach of education rather than saying how bad they are. This is more appealing to many people and is proven to work in most cases to lessen interest in the use of anabolics. A team-centered approach to ATLAS has shown to reduce new steroid abuse by 50 percent (NIDA 2). Although these are great resources and educational tools, they provide only bases to the fight to prevent the spread of usage of steroids.
More needs to be done if prevention is truly an issue to the people of this country. Though it is burdened with such serous side effects and widespread use, it seems almost unheard of to for someone to be arrested for taking steroids. It is quite overlooked by law enforcement and this is causing many unnecessary deaths relating to the consumption of these brutal products.
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If someone guaranteed you amazing results in the weight room with minimal effort by just taking a pill would you take it? You probably would! But, if you knew that these pills could potentially knock 20 years off your life. Would you take it then? You would be suprised to find out how many people would answer yes to that question. In the past three decades, steroids have become a serious problem, more than ever in the athletic field. It is reported that over 3 million athletes and bodybuilders alone have used anabolic steroids . Steroids are a drug that include the male sex hormones, principally, testosterone and estrogen, the female sex hormone. To begin quite simply, it is apparent to most people that men tend to be larger than women. Indeed, a clear cut example of a difference between the sexes is the relative muscle mass. In men the most important growth builder is testosterone, which is made from the cells of the testes. Approximately 8 mg of testosterone is created daily, most of which is metabolized by the liver and excreted through the body in urine form. Testosterone is also present in the blood plasma of women, being derived from the ovaries and adrenal glands, in amounts roughly 30 times less than that found in men. Among the many effects of these androgens is the general growth on the body tissues and an increase in muscle strength. One of the main effects of anabolic steroids is to increase the number of red blood cells and muscle tissue without producing much of the androgenic effects of testosterone.
Steroids have been around since the 1950`s and have been used by athletes as a means of improving appearance, muscle mass and strength. The first people to use anabolic steroids for athletic enhancement were the Russians who discovered the drug and had great success. Soon after scientists discovered how to make artificial testosterone and eliminate some of the dangerous side effects. This is when anabolic steroids were first born. Since then they have become very available in almost every country and local gym. Steroids were first developed for medical purposes. They're used in controlling inflammation, strengthening weakened hearts, preventing conception, and alleviating symptoms of arthritis and asthma. There are only three legal uses for steroids, treatment for certain forms of cancer, pituitary dwarfism, and serious hormone disturbances. Unfortunately research has shown that steroids have been abused in almost every kind of sport including professional football, power lifting and bodybuilding. Athletes can use anabolic steroids in two different forms. The first is oral, which is a tablet to be swallowed. Oral steroids allow the body to store more creatine phosphate (short term energy source). The second form is an injectible which is a liquid injected into the muscle. This form of the drug promotes protein synthesis. Whether taken by injection or the pill it increases strength and endurance. Steroids also help in the healing process of muscular tissue by first injuring them, then the muscles heal quicker adding more fiber and increasing their bulk. Athletes are also more prone to use steroids due to the inexpensive cost of the drug. A ten week cycle of artificial testosterone costs only about one hundred dollars. Steroids are also very hard to trace because of their water base composition. They can pass through the body within two days. All these benefits of steroids help a athlete become more competitive and increase their chance of being a winner. Of course everybody wants better biceps and triceps but when using steroids to achieve this goal there is a large price to pay.
The drugs that most common athletes use are androgen-anabolic steroids, fake versions of testosterone. They retain nitrogen which helps in the synthesis of protein and the creation of new tissue. But because they are imitators of the male hormone, they tend to change the secondary sex characteristics. In men, steroids cause shrinkage of the testicles, decrease in sperm count, sterility, impotence, prostate enlargement and growth of female breast. Some of these side effects can not be reversed. Men who use steroids may become more or less interested in sex. The most severe effect of anabolic steroids is on the liver, this is called peliosis hepatis or blood filled cysts in the liver. If the cysts rupture they can cause liver failure which can kill a person. In women, steroids contribute to the growth of facial hair, enlargements of the clitoris, shrinkage of the uterus, sterility, deepening of the voice, decrease in breast size and irregularity of the menstrual cycle. In both men and women hair loss, liver ailments, acne, atherosierosis and cancer are very common. . When injected one risks the chances of developing hematoma and contracting AIDS .This dangerous drug shortens the life span up to twenty years and increases the chance of obtaining diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. The side effects and reactions from using anabolic steroids are endless.
Along with the physical problems there are also mental reactions associated with the usage of steroids. This drug becomes very addictive and damaging to the mind. It causes violent episodes which an athlete can claim a legal insanity defense to it. They get so wrapped up psychologically that the negative effects doesn't matter to them. Research has also discovered that steroids cause psychotic side effects sometimes referred to as "roid rages". Along with these are wild, aggressive, combative behavior, depression, listlessness and delusions during and after performance. Even though the game is over athletes want to continue competing. Steroids mentally destroy the brain and ability to reason. Overall the usage of steroids is very damaging to the human body. Even though it physically builds up the body for better performance the risks of use are enormous. Steroids physically deteriorate and mentally destroy the body.
You would think that with all the above listed problems that can arise out of the use of these steroids, the individual would leave them entirely alone but this is not the case. Besides this, and to add to the risk, the top muscle men take doses far and above that which is prescribed and if they cannot get enough to take the quantity they wish they will get prescriptions from several doctors so that their quantity is almost limitless. This is where the real danger lies with these individuals. They are not satisfied to take the drug over a short period of time and as prescribed, but rather they take them over long periods and in much greater quantities because only in this manner do you gain the incredible size that some of the fellows possess today. Small quantities over short periods do not bring the same results and this is the prime reason they are so dangerous, simply because the user resorts to excess to achieve his goal. While these drugs are never recommended for healthy people, a number of physicians will write prescriptions anyway. It has been estimated that as many as 47% of weight lifters, and who knows how many bodybuilders, have received the drug from physicians and all of them were on a dosage that was two to four times greater than the recommended dosage.
In conclusion, steroids have a great impact on one's body. But, you can't say that two people will have the exact same effect while using the drug. Steroids help the body put on muscle and add strength in the short term. In the long run, steroids can have numerous negative effects on the body and can even cause death. When you take steroids you are playing with fire and are going to get burned. If you want to get in shape and improve your looks and strength the best possible way is to have a proper diet and adequate training time. This has been proven over and over again that it is the safest and most efficient way of getting healthy. Next time you see a bodybuilder with those huge 20inch biceps you will now know that his body is not as healthy as it looks. Further, there are now questions as to the validity of the testing procedure used to examine the potency of the anabolic steroids presently on the market shelves. This would suggest that the anabolic steroids may have but a fraction of their reported protein anabolic activity giving further support to the idea that improved nutrition may be the major cause of the observed effects of these steroids. It may well be that lifters through out this country are taking a big chance with their health for a very small result.