The myths around steroids

The most common explanation a steroid user would give is that the drug gave them more stamina to work out and/or train harder and thus the added muscle. It is important that the user understands that they are not ‘pumped’ to work harder, that they are simply pumped with extra muscle mass due to the drugs.

Another myth surrounding steroids is the belief that they need no professional guidance to be administered and used. This often leads to addiction, a condition known as anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence. Research on this topic is limited due to the innumerable factors affecting health and lifestyle of sportsmen like diets, exercise regime and performance pressure. However, given the long list of negative side effects, it is always advisable to have a doctor and/or health trainer monitoring dosage.

Social pressure for steroid use and abuse

Adolescents and sportsmen are the most abusive groups of the population when it comes to steroid use. Reasons to get hooked include a need to compete to look equivalent to the ‘quick mass building’ steroid users, both on the fields and in gyms, and also wanting superior performance to meet commercial contracts for survival in their sport.

It is not uncommon to find users wanting to start off with just one dose to build up initial muscle mass and then get addicted to ensure they maintain it. Research estimates a third of steroid users being in this state eventually end up becoming dependent on the drug.

With increasing usage every year, it is important for doctors, sportsmen and concerned authorities to truly understand the science behind how and why steroid affects the body along with the social pressure to start its usage for proper education and awareness of its users and legal measures to be taken related to the issue.

Future research must focus on anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence to understand the psychology of its addiction and rehabilitation and the information thus collected needs to be made accessible to the general public for overall welfare of the people in general and sports community in particular.

Physiological and Psychological Effects of Anabolic Steroids

The desire to win sometimes takes over the morality of a sportsperson, making them take the risk of being caught. It has been proven in innumerable studies that, in the long run, AAS use and abuse causes extensive physiological and psychological damage, not limited to the reproductive, endocrinal, digestive and circulatory systems.

Physiological Effects

The liver is the most affected due to steroid abuse due to inability to get alkalised if taken orally and due to direct entry into the bloodstream in aces of injection. The effects are more jarring in adolescents and thus young players must be stopped from getting addicted.

The most typical cardiac abnormality in AAS abusers is left ventricular hypertrophy, associated with fibrosis and myocytolysis. Users of steroid, when compared to nonusers, in the long term, have been found to have twice the probability for a cardiovascular issue leading to death, infertility issues due to nuroendocrinological imbalance and increased chances of brain damage.

Another facet of abuse is increased risk of tearing of the tendons, due to reduced collagen production and this affects normal skeletal movement. Extensive acne is reported as a common side effect across studies.

Long term use, though initially causes high libido, has been linked to impotency due to high levels of testosterone limiting natural sperm production. Some players report heightened aggressiveness, diminished fatigue and speedy recovery of damaged muscles. Probably the most apparent change in a female athlete is the masculinization of features.

Injection users usually oversee the risk of infection due to shared or non-sterile devices and poor methods and are thus susceptible to disease like HIV and Hepatitis.

Psychological Effects

There is not much difference between AAS users and non users with respect to response speed, sustained attention, and verbal memory but research has \confirmed extensive damage to memory, especially to the part of the brain dealing with Visio spatial memory.

There are extensive mood swings, increased aggression, reduced sleep, increased self-motivation, oscillating with higher anxiety and depression. At least 20% of the abusers had sought medical help for mental problems.

Major research study on AAS

The period from 60s to 90s saw a lot of controversy on the physiological and psychological effects of steroids on the human body. A lot of what we know on the effect of steroids comes from the work of Shalender Bhasin, whose path breaking experiment of 1996 is cited by Griffiths, Murray, Mitchison, & Mond. The paper was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and detailed a study of 43 men divided into groups and administered with varying amounts of steroids, with all other factors being constant, for a span of 10 weeks. He found that a weekly dose of 600 gm of Testosterone Enanthate caused hypertrophy of the skeletal muscles and weight gain of over 6 kilograms with exercise and 3 kilograms without exercise, during the study period. His study also found no saturation limit found for the said weight gain and that all of the 3 and 6 kilograms mentioned above was put on within the last 6 to 7 weeks of the study alone.

The reason of inaccurate results is due to the fact that there are many variables affecting the muscle strength of a player like diet, performance anxiety and genetics. It is very important that more research on the negative impact of steroids is conducted and all information thereof is made available to the public. It is required that the new generation of sportsmen and students stay away from these drugs and putting their lives in peril.