Many people have had their lives ruined by the use of illegal steroids, yet
the desired effects are so overwhelming that people tend to overlook the
consequences. Steroid users believe taking anabolic steroids will enhance their
performance, strength, size,etc. They regard the use of them as legitimate as any
other aspect of training.
To begin with, the term “anabolic ” means “to build tissue,” therefore
anabolic steroids tend to increase constructive metabolic pathways within the
body. Also, anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the natural male
sex hormone, testosterone.
Testosterone was the first steroid developed, a natural occuring hormone in
many plants and animals. The first clinical use of testosterone occured in 1958
when physicians injected it into underweight and ill patients to simualte weight
gain. The first reported use of steroids in a non-medical setting occured during
World War II. Steroids were adminstered by Nazi doctors into German soldiers to
enhance their aggressiveness. The Soviet Union noted the Nazis’ use of the drug
and recognized that enhanced aggressiveness, increasing in strength, and size
could be desirable in athletic competition. The Soviets experimented with steroids
in the early 1950’s and it is believed that they were used in the 1952 Olympic
The introduction of steroids into the United States is often attributed to the
late Dr. John Ziegler, the team physician for the United States weightlifting team
at the last Vienna World Power lifting championships. A Soviet physician told
Ziegler that some of the members fo the Soviet team were using testosterone as an
aid to enhance their strength. Ziegler was impressed with the results and began
conducting some studies on American lifters. The results were the development
and introduction of the steroid Dianobol, an anabolic steroid with fewer
masculinizing properties than testosterone. Dianobol became well known in the
athletic world. By the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, steroid use had escalated
to the point that many Olympic competetors in the strength events were either
using them or were aware of their performance ehancing abilties.
Anabolic steroids are all derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone.
With the use of steroids a person will receive two types of effects from the use.
The first is the androgenic effects or masculinizing. These are the unwanted
effects such as the enlarging of the prostate, growth of male sex glands, deepening
of the voice, and increased facial hair(other steroids were developed in an attempt
to separate these effects of testosterone from the anabolic). The other effect is
anabolic effects, the wanted effects. There are three major benefits that are
wanted from steroid use and they are: Frist athletes will attain a greater increase
in lean muscle mass and strength when it is used with a combination of rigorous
training and the drug. The second major benefit of the steroid use is that the
athlete’s body suffers less breakdown. This decrease in muscle breakdown and
recovery time permits more frequent training sessions at higher intensity and for
longer periods of time. The third benefit is the increased aggresiveness they are
believed to simulate. This increased aggresssiveness may drive athletes to train
harder and longer without the usual fatigue. Other positive effects of using
steroids is increases in; storage of muscle glycogen, blood volume, a general
boasting of the immune system, and the reduction of body fat percentage. The
effects are maintained as long as the athlete continues the steroid use.
Anabolic steroids also have a number of potentially harmful side effects.
The introduction of synthetic hormones results in decreased levels of other natural
hormones. This worsens acne and accelerates baldness.This can also result in
the decrease production of sperm and testosterone by the testes, which can lead to
atrophy of the testes. Increased incidents of liver tumors and abnormal liver
funtions have been noted in patients using anabolic steroids. Liver, prostate, and
testicular cancer have been linked to steroid use, particularly oral steroids.
Increases in high density cholesterol is noted in people using steroids, suggesting
hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and blood-clotting disorders. Also,
athletes using steroids seem to be suffering many more muscle and tendon injuries.
Some doctors wonder if it is the drug-induced brittelness of the muscle or tendon
or the heavier weights that is being lifted. Others think the increased
aggressiveness causes lifters to ignore warning signals from an overworked body
and they train harder than they should.
In adult women, severe masculinizing effects have been documented
including hair growth onthe cheeks and the chin, male patern baldness, irreversible
deepening of the voice, shrinkage of the breast size, uterine atrophy, and menstrual
irregularities. In pre-adults, anabolic steroids can cause the premature closure of
the bone growth plates resulting in shorter structures.
Another major side effect includes what has been popularly called “roid
rage”. For training and competition, the increased aggressiveness has been
classified as a benefit of steroid use; however, with increasing dosage, the
increased aggression will have an adverse effect.Wild aggression and paranoid
delusions are common in some steroid users, and they may also suffer from major
depressions and peroids of spontaneous violence.
Steroids can also be both physicaly and psychologically addictive.
Physcially many many athletes experience severe depressions following periods of
not taking the drug, similar to that of any other drug addict. Psychologically,
steroid use can be compulsive and unstoppable in what has been termed by the
medical community as “reversed anorexia”. The steroid users have an
uncontrollable obsession with being big instead of skinny. This obsession results
in the continuing or increased usage of anabolic steroids.
The use of steroids in the United States has been estimated as high as one
million persons, or one in every two hundred-fifty people. The major reason for
this large amount of useage is that sports have envolved from recreational pastime
to a lucrative money-making venture at the professional level. Speed and strength
have opened the door to financial opportunities and a bond has been formed
between sports and steroids. The concept of sports as a fun recreational activity
has been surpassed by sports as a business. Many athletes will sell their bodies to
steroids for an opportunity to win a spot on a professional roster or winning a gold
medal in the Olympics. Since the introduction of steroids to sports, the reason for
their use has remained the same; the pursuit of the winning edge.