Back To CourseHealth 102: Substance Abuse
15 chapters | 139 lessons
Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences
If you're a fan of professional sports, you're probably familiar with the terms 'doping', 'juicing', and 'roids'. If you don't follow sports, you may be less familiar with these terms. What does 'doping' mean? This lesson will explain legal and illegal use of anabolic steroids, a type of performance enhancing drug.
Simply put, an anabolic steroid is any drug or hormone that increases testosterone in the body. Testosterone is a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and sexual maturity in men. There are legitimate medical conditions that may warrant the use of testosterone, but an illegal market has emerged due to the competitive edge it can provide users.
Scientists initially synthesized anabolic steroids to treat men suffering from abnormal growth, development, or sexual functioning. However, during World War II, it was discovered that malnourished soldiers who received anabolic steroids gained weight and recovered faster. Following this realization came a boom in the illegal production of anabolic steroids, leading to an official ban by the International Olympic Committee in 1975.
Anabolic steroids work by stimulating the production of proteins in the body. Among other things, proteins help to build muscle, so using these steroids increases muscle mass. Doses are usually administered through an injection with a needle, either directly into the bloodstream or into the muscle itself; however, there are also oral options or topical forms that can be applied to the skin and absorbed.
Anabolic steroids were initially produced to treat legitimate medical conditions. They may be used as a supplement in men who naturally have low testosterone production or to treat someone recovering from a serious illness or injury. Other medical conditions anabolic steroids may be used to treat include anemia, breast cancer, HIV wasting syndrome, osteoporosis, hypogonadism, and abnormal growth or development of adolescents. When administered properly by a health professional for a legitimate condition, anabolic steroids can be very beneficial. The problem arises when people begin abusing them.
Both men and women abuse anabolic steroids to change their body - in a world obsessed with a quick-fix, it's not surprising that people want to experiment with ways to gain muscle and lose body fat. However, anabolic steroids are serious drugs that have two general types of physical effects on the body.
First, they cause hormonal effects. Increased testosterone causes a person to become more 'masculinized'. This means their voice deepens, they grow more facial and body hair, and initially they may experience enlargement of the sex organs. The second group of effects are anabolic. These include increased muscle mass, enlarged internal organs, and an increase of calcium in the bones.
Let's take a closer look at the short and long-term effects of anabolic steroid use. In the short-term, men may experience reduced sperm count, heart damage, impotence, and difficult or painful urination. Over the long-term, they can develop liver disease or liver cancer, enlarged breasts, testicle shrinkage, baldness, and infertility. It's important to note that some side effects only occur while actively using the steroids, while others are permanent and irreversible.
In the short-term, women may experience breast size reduction and increased growth of body hair. With long-term use, they will experience a deepening of the voice, enlarged sex organs, abnormal menstruation cycles, and baldness.
Those sound bad enough. But wait, there are more side effects that are experienced by BOTH men and women. In the short term, these include acne, swelling (especially in the ankles and feet), weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insomnia, headaches, decreased sex drive, increased muscle mass, increased appetite, and a higher chance of developing tendinitis.
With long-term use, symptoms include abnormal blood clotting, heart attack, stroke, internal organ damage, stunted growth (in adolescents), faster recovery after strenuous activity, and an increased risk of infection due to injections. As you can see, anabolic steroid use isn't something to be taken lightly - it can cause serious health problems, many of which can be fatal.
When someone is abusing anabolic steroids, the rapid change in their physical appearance may be a clue to their friends and family; however, there are also a host of psychological effects that take place.
Most notably is the development of increased aggressiveness and violent tendencies (sometimes referred to as 'roid rage'). Rapid mood swings, paranoia, irritability, and impaired judgement are also tell-tale signs of anabolic steroid abuse.
Initially, a person using anabolic steroids may report increased feelings of wellness, but this is misleading. The effects of anabolic steroid use are additive, meaning it takes more and more of the drug to achieve the same results. When a person stops taking them, there are physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, of which depression is a serious effect.
We have gotten numb to news reports of athletes abusing anabolic steroids, but it's a serious issue. Anabolic steroids work by increasing the amount of testosterone in the body. This drives an increase in protein production, leading to increased muscle mass. There are a number of medical conditions for which anabolic steroids are a viable treatment option, but more commonly steroids are abused by people wanting to change their body.
Anabolic steroids cause both hormonal and anabolic changes to the body. Side effects can include a masculinization of features, like developing a deeper voice and growing more body hair. Long-term use can lead to organ damage, infertility, and higher incidence of heart attacks or strokes (among many others). Additionally, people who abuse anabolic steroids experience emotional symptoms like increased anger, irritability, aggression, and violent outbursts (known as 'roid rage'). Withdrawal symptoms can be serious, the worst of which is depression. As you can see, abuse of anabolic steroid use is a serious issue that shouldn't be aspired to based the actions of some professional athletes.
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Back To CourseHealth 102: Substance Abuse
15 chapters | 139 lessons