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Brief and Straightforward Guide on: Anabolic Steroids

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic Steroids or Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are artificially manufactured variants of the naturally - occurring male sex hormone Testosterone.

Anabolic pertains to the muscle building property of the hormone, while, androgenic refers to an increase in the male sexual characteristics.

These drugs are lawfully prescribed to manage conditions resulting from hormonal deficiency, such as - delayed onset of puberty, and disorders that cause loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer or AIDS.

Anabolic steroids support cell growth and division, resulting in growth and development of muscle tissue and bone size. They promise fat - free, lean muscle weight gain and good bone strength. All the Anabolic Steroids are chemical by-products of the male sex hormone Testosterone.

Anabolic Steroids increase the lean muscle mass, muscle strength, and the ability to work-out / train / exercise longer and harder. They greatly enhance performance and tolerance levels. The hormone improves the ability to run faster, lift heavier weights, jump higher, and have greater endurance and stamina.

How are Anabolic Steroids (AS) abused?

Occasionally, some individuals, (athletes as well as non-athletes), abuse AAS (Anabolic Androgenic Steroids) in an endeavor to boost performance levels and / or to enhance physical appearance. AAS are either taken orally or injected, characteristically, in cycles, instead of continuous administration. Cycling is a therapy-plan, in which the steroids are taken for a period of weeks or months, after which, the use is stopped for an interval of time, and then re-started. What’s more, users blend several different types of Steroids, to make the most of their effectiveness. This is called stacking.

AAS are illegal drugs and can be obtained only through a doctor’s prescription and for specific medical conditions only.

Steroids are largely used by body builders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts, who claim, that Steroids give them a competitive lead and / or enhance their physical performance. Also, people who are in occupations that require huge amounts of physical strength like, body guards, and law enforcement officers, are known to take these drugs. However, steroid abuse has been linked to several health problems and unfavorable complications.

Are steroids additive?

There is a strong potential for AAS abusers to get addicted, despite developing adverse physical problems and negative effects on their social relations. Additionally, steroid abusers spend large amounts of time and money trying to procure the drug. Individuals who abuse steroids suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the AAS. These include - fatigue, weariness, restlessness, poor appetite, insomnia, mood swings, decreased libido, and steroid cravings, all of which have a say, and are responsible for the continuation of the drug abuse. One of the most risky withdrawal symptom is depression, which could sometimes lead to suicide attempts.

Research also states that some users turn to other drugs to assuage some of the negative effects of AAS.

Side effects of Anabolic Steroid administration

Abuse of the AAS can lead to grave and sometimes, irreparable health problems, seriously jeopardizing health. Some of the side effects include:

• Severe acne
• Insomnia
• Headaches
• Psychological effects, like - aggression, belligerence, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, paranoia, violence, delusion, hallucinations, depression, and suicidal tendencies
• Severe liver damage, sometimes permanent
• Fluid retention
• Type 2 diabetes mellitus
• High blood pressure
• Affects the lipid profile, it raises the LDL (bad cholesterol) and reduces the HDL (good cholesterol)
• Cardio-vascular disorders
• Renal failure
• Cancer
• In men, there occurs shrinking of the testes, reduction in the sperm count, infertility, impotence, excessive sexual drive, loss of hair, gynaecomastia (enlargement of breasts), and an increased risk for prostate cancer.
• For women, growth of facial hair, male-pattern hair loss, alteration or stoppage of the menstrual cycle, disruption of the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries, growth of the clitoris, and deepening of the voice, could occur.
• Adolescents show arrested growth / short stature due to pre-mature skeletal maturation and speeded up puberty changes.
• Re-distribution of fat occurs, causing edema face and deposition of fat around the abdomen, but thin arms and legs.
• An increased susceptibility to infections may occur with very high doses.
• Steroids lower calcium absorption through the gastro-intestinal tract, and may result in osteoporosis or thinning of the bones.
• Further, people who inject AAS run the additional risk of contracting or transmitting HIV or hepatitis.

Orally administered Anabolic Steroids have greater unfavorable and detrimental effects, than AS administered through the parenteral route (via injections). In addition, the type of AS determines the benefits and, the extent of side effects. AAS containing a 17-alkyl group have potentially graver undesirable affects, particularly, to the liver. Furthermore, athletes use oral and parenteral AAS at the same time, and in doses that are greater than the recommended therapeutic dose.

Frequency and seriousness of the side effects is changeable, since, it depends upon various factors, such as: type of drug, dose, duration of use and the individual’s sensitivity and reaction.

Some of the adverse effects are reversed once the usage of the drug is stopped, but, it could take several months.

Importantly, there aren’t many treatment options to combat the side effects of AS abuse. Experts say, supportive therapy clubbed with awareness and education about the withdrawal symptoms and the addiction, and medications restores the balance of the hormonal system after its disturbance by the AAS abuse. If symptoms are harsh or too prolonged, symptomatic medications and/or hospitalization may be required.