What About Steroids? (FocusAS.com)
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Steroids:  Anabolic steroids are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone.  From 1998 to 1999, there was a significant increase in anabolic steroid abuse among middle-schoolers.

They're also known as 
roids, juice, hype, or pump.

Anabolic (and androgenic) steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones.  'Anabolic' refers to muscle-building ('androgenic' refers to increased masculine characteristics).  'Steroids' refers to the class of drugs.

These drugs are available legally only by prescription, to treat conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty and some types of impotence.  They are also prescribed to treat body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.

Anabolic steroids are manufactured legally or illegally outside the United States and smuggled in, usually through the mail; manufactured legally and diverted to the black market; or manufactured illegally in the United States.  Many substances sold as anabolic steroids are diluted, contaminated, or simply fake.

Today, individuals abuse anabolic steroids to enhance performance and also to improve physical appearance.  Anabolic steroids are taken orally or injected, typically in cycles of weeks or months (referred to as “cycling”), rather than continuously.  Cycling involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. In addition, users often combine several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing negative effects (referred to as “stacking”).

Signs of Steroid Use

  • Quick weight and muscle gains (when used in a weight training program) 
  • Aggressiveness and combativeness
  • Jaundice
  • Purple or red spots on the body
  • Swelling of feet and lower legs
  • Trembling
  • Unexplained darkening of the skin
  • Persistent unpleasant breath odor
  • Severe acne breakouts and oily skin

Effects of Steroid Use

Taken in combination with a program of muscle-building exercise and diet, steroids may contribute to increases in body weight and muscular strength. 

Steroid users subject themselves to more than 70 side effects ranging in severity from liver cancer to acne and including psychological as well as physical reactions.  The liver and cardiovascular and reproductive systems are most seriously affected by steroid use. 

Psychological effects in both sexes include very aggressive behavior known as "roid rage" and depression.

Health consequences include:

  • In boys and men, reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, impotence, difficulty or pain in urinating, baldness, and irreversible breast enlargement (gynecomastia).
  • In girls and women, development of more masculine characteristics, such as decreased body fat and breast size, deepening of the voice, excessive growth of body hair, and loss of scalp hair, as well as clitoral enlargement.
  • In adolescents of both sexes, premature termination of the adolescent growth spurt, so that for the rest of their lives, abusers remain shorter than they would have been without the drugs.
  • In males and females of all ages, potentially fatal liver cysts and liver cancer; blood clotting, cholesterol changes, and hypertension, each of which can promote heart attack and stroke; and acne.  Although not all scientists agree, some interpret available evidence to show that anabolic steroid abuse- - particularly in high doses -- promotes aggression that can manifest itself as fighting, physical and sexual abuse, armed robbery, and property crimes such as burglary and vandalism.  Upon stopping anabolic steroids, some abusers experience symptoms of depressed mood, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, headache, muscle and joint pain, and the desire to take more anabolic steroids.
  • In injectors, infections resulting from the use of shared needles or non-sterile equipment, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and infective endocarditis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.  Bacterial infections can develop at the injection site, causing pain and abscess.

While some side effects appear quickly, others -- such as heart attacks and strokes -- may not show up for years.  A pregnant woman who takes steroids risks harm to her unborn child.  Ligaments and tendons may be more easily injured, and these injuries may take longer to heal.


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