Steroids: The Hard, Chiseled Truth

Steroid Use Image

In a society that is overly consumed with looks and obtaining the ‘perfect body’ it is not surprising that steroid use is a common occurrence. In the context of a college setting, where illegal substances are prevalent and people consistently make risky health choices, the issue of steroids often tends to be overshadowed. Although there may be more prevalent health concerns to focus on, that doesn’t mean that steroid use isn’t a topic that should be discussed. Many people believe the biggest risk of using steroids is having an episode of “roid rage” or breaking out; unfortunately that’s just not true. There are serious side effects that accompany steroid use—side effects that can be very dangerous, and potentially permanent. Steroids are illegal because they pose a serious threat to your health and well-being, NOT because the government and the Federal Drug Administration are worried that your huge arms might be a dangerous weapon. Learn the facts about what you are putting into your body! Utilize this article and the resources listed below to increase your knowledge about the reality and risks that come along with steroids and learn healthy tips to help you build those incredible muscles without relying on “the juice.”

What Are Steroids?

Steroids are man-made substances that mimic the male hormones. Steroids have a medical purpose and are used in the treatment of some illness. People abuse steroids in order to improve athletic performance and increase their muscle mass. Steroids that are abused most commonly in body-building are called anabolic steroids. These can be taken in pill form, injected into the body, or applied as creams. Steroids are generally abused in cycles of 6-12 weeks and steroid users employ a technique referred to as “stacking”, which involves using multiple steroids at one time. These techniques are generally used together in an attempt to boost steroids’ muscle building effects.

Think you’re not taking illegal steroids? Think again.

Many over the counter products have been found to contain hidden steroids, or substances that are very similar, or the same as illegal steroids. This means that you might be at risk for numerous side-effects listed in this article, AND if you are an athlete, you could be suspended from activity for testing positive to illegal substances even though you purchased them at your local nutritional supplement dealer. These products are often considered “dietary supplements” which can communicate to some that they are safe. These products, however, are NOT regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Check out next month’s article where we will explore these “legal steroids.”

What Makes Steroids Bad for Me?

Your body has a natural level of hormones that is thrown off when you use steroids. Your body wants to stay at this balanced level, so when you throw in large amounts of supplemental hormones, your body is not functioning properly and you can have serious, negative reactions.

Potential Physical Side Effects:
• Severe Acne
• Liver and Kidney Tumors
• Baldness
• Breast Development
• Increase Risk of Cancer
• High Blood Pressure
• Water Retention
• Infertility
• Abnormal Heart Rhythms
• Shrinking of the Testicles (Male)
• Reduced Sperm Count (Male)
• Growth of Facial Hair (Female)
• Changes or Lack of Menstrual Cycles (Female)
• Deepening of Voice (Female)
• Stunted Growth (Adolescents)

Potential Emotional Side Effects:
• Dramatic Mood Swings
• Violent Outbursts and Irritability (Roid Rage)
• Depression
• Paranoid Jealousy
• Delusions
• Impaired Judgment

Alternatives to Steroids:

Reach goals the natural way. You can build muscle and improve your performance without turning to supplements. If you eat well and get on a structured exercise plan that is specifically designed to target your personal goals–whether that be adding an inch to your arm size or making you faster on the court–you can get great results that last. What is the down-side to this approach? Your results might take slightly longer to show-up. What are the up-sides to this approach? You’ll feel great. You will get the results you’re looking for without worrying about the HUGE list of potentially permanent and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Natural results give you a great opportunity to maintain long-term body and lifestyle changes that help you live well in the long run (plus you’ll save money on acne cream and not alienate yourself from the people you care about!)

If you are abusing steroids, thinking about using steroids without a prescription, know someone who is, or you or a friend are consuming over the counter supplements without having knowledge about the ingredients, make it a priority to learn about the facts and risks involved. Choose healthy and safe options that will give you great results without all of the nasty side effects. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.

Resources:

The Federal Drug Administration’s Recommendations about Steroids: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm173739.htm
How to Spot a Steroid Abuser:
http://www.steroidabuse.com/how-to-spot-a-steroid-user.html
Steroid Fact Sheet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/steroids.html
Urban Dictionary
http://www.urbandictionary.com

*The information used in this article was obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

By: Stephanie Waits, MPH, CHES

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