Non-medical use of anabolic steroids has rocked the professional athletic world with scandal and tragedy while it has been influential in creating unhealthy body images for millions of youth. As users attempt to reach unrealistic athletic goals and build body mass, they may suffer serious physical and mental consequences.
How are anabolic steroids taken?
Anabolic steroids are taken orally or injected, or rubbed on the body as a cream. These drugs are often obtained on the Internet. Steroid abusers will take the drug in a technique called stacking, which is combining two or more different steroids or different ways to take them (injecting or oral, for example). Pyramiding is a pseudo-scientific way to control or optimize the use of the drugs by increasing dosage and then reducing the dosage of the steroids in mid-cycle.
These steroids are used in significantly less powerful forms as prescription medications for people who suffer from diseases that reduce lean muscle mass. AIDS patients may be prescribed steroids.
Slang terms include:
- Pipes and python to describe arms with muscle mass
- Microwaveable to describe someone who uses anabolic steroids
Signs of usage
The obvious cumulative effect of use is muscle mass. In competitive sports, steroid users have gained short-term endurance and strength, but the long-term effects can be dangerous to themselves and others.
Effects of usage:
- Increased chance of injuring ligaments, tendons and muscles
- When injecting higher risk of bacterial infections, abscesses, cellulitis, and HIV/AIDS
- Increase in muscle size
How long do the effects last?
The effects of steroids are cumulative.
- Abuse of oral or injected anabolic steroids is associated with increased risk for heart attack and strokes.
- Most oral anabolic steroids can cause liver damage including hepatic cancer.
- Damage to heart, liver and kidneys
- Hormonal changes
- Pain which may then cause addiction if users turn to opiates
Usage by youth:
Young people see athletes as role models and steroids as a way to achieve athletic performance as well as physical attractiveness. The ATLAS and ATHENA programs are school-based programs that educate teenage athletes about steroids and healthy alternatives as well as positive body image.