Due to their abuse, potency, and alarming side effects, steroids have attracted a lot of notoriety. If these drugs are legal and can be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. But then, many people still consider them as a contraband substance that shouldn’t be used for anything other than a medical condition.
While this standpoint is true, to a certain extent, some still base their opinion on anecdotal evidence. To help you form an educated opinion on anabolic steroids, this write-up presents seven key facts about the drug.
1. Anabolic Steroids Mimic Testosterone and Estrogen
By composition, anabolic steroids are a synthetic drug that replicates estrogen and testosterone. As you already know, these human hormones are responsible for developing secondary sex characteristics during puberty.
When taken after the teen years, anabolic steroids can be a tool to amplify the results of an exercise routine. The body responds to the hormone increase by enlarging muscle mass, stamina, and strength. However, the hormonal boost has a significant effect on the endocrine system.
These are an array of glands that naturally produce hormones and regulate growth, sexual function, tissue rejuvenation, mood, and more. The thing is, anabolic steroid intake is supposed to target only the growth and tissue rejuvenation aspect of the hormonal system.
But if the body is overwhelmed with the synthetic steroids it may get confused and try to compensate for the excess of hormones. As a result, users may experience impaired mood and sexual function.
2. Anabolic Steroids May Not Be Addictive
In all frankness, there’s an ongoing debate as to whether anabolic steroids are addictive or not. But if you take a closer look at how these affect your body, it’s safe to assume that steroids might not be addictive. To be exact, you can’t get high on steroids, since they don’t cause dopamine spikes in the brain.
But there’s the other side of the coin. Since anabolic steroids influence the endocrine system, your body may become physiologically dependant on the substance. And once you decide to stop using steroids, there is a withdrawal period with certain side effects.
This is one of the reasons some experts believe steroids are actually addictive. However, one may develop a similar substance dependancy using almost any other supplement, medication, or even sugary food.
3. Anabolic Steroid Side Effects Are Gender and Age-Specific
Even though there are certain common side effects, men, women, and adolescents may experience different side effects. It’s important to note that most of these come due to prolonged use, or steroid abuse.
Some men may experience reduced sperm count and motility and their testicles may shink. This is one of the mechanisms the male body uses to compensate for the testosterone spike. On the other hand, women may start developing male characteristics like a deep voice, facial hair, boldness, etc.
As for the adolescents, their growth and maturation could be halted due to steroid abuse. These changes are permanent and adolescents should refrain for using steroids altogether, unless prescribed by a doctor.
4. Close to One Million UK Residents Take Anabolic Steroids
According to the Guardian, about one million people in the UK regularly take anabolic steroids. But this number also encompasses other IPEDs, drugs that enhance performance and image. More importantly, there seems to be a rise in the illegal laboratories that flood the market with steroids that could cause serious damage to one’s health.
With this in mind, owning and taking steroids is legal in the UK as long as they come with a prescription and from a licensed source. In other words, you should refrain from taking bootleg steroid pills, injections, and topicals someone might offer you in the gym.
5. Steroids Aren’t Taken Only by Gym-Goers and Bodybuilders
As indicated, anabolic steroids have the power to enhance one’s image and physical performance. Therefore, the user pool ranges from teens who wish to get ripped as fast as possible to the elderly who long to reverse the years. However, anabolic steroids aren’t a fountain of youth and strength.
Again, these substances tap into the endocrine system and tamper with its inner workings. Consequently, steroid intake needs to be closely monitored and based on one’s health status. To explain, if one particular steroid did wonders for your friend’s physique, it doesn’t mean it can do the same for you.
6. Anabolic Steroids Can Be Used for AIDS and Cancer Treatment
Chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS are known to cause cachexia. This is a side effect that’s characterized by overall body weakness and loss of muscle mass. To counteract cachexia, doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to AIDS and cancer patients to help them regain muscle mass and strength.
It’s worth noting, that steroids for medical treatment and the ones for improving physique may not be the same. In general, the anabolic steroids taken by healthy individuals may be up to 100 times more potent than their medicinal counterparts.
7. Majority of Users Inject Anabolic Steroids
According to the 2016 National IPED Info survey, 85% of anabolic steroid users injected them. Compare that to just over 70% in 2015, and it’s obvious that the numbers are on the rise. Even though the IPED Info didn’t publish more recent results, the preliminary studies suggest the rising trend continues to this day.
The reason for this lies in the fact that injectable steroids tend to be the most effective. But these are also among the most dangerous and should be used with extreme caution to prevent infection and negative effects.
The Bottom Line
By now, you should have a better understanding of what anabolic steroids are and how they are used. This should help you gauge if this performance-enhancing drug is the right fit for you. But be careful, stats and facts can’t tell you how your body will react to steroids, so you need to be cautious from the get-go.