Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds designed to mimic the functioning of male sex hormones, including testosterone. As such, they enhance skeletal muscle growth, strength, and development of male sexual characteristics irrespective of gender. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these steroids were first developed in the late 1930s to treat muscle wasting, delayed puberty, and some impotence conditions. However, medical researchers later discovered that anabolic steroids promoted muscle growth, making them popular among athletes. Other notable effects of anabolic steroids on humans include:
For starters, steroids disrupt the functioning of the hormonal system leading to reversible and irreversible body changes. Examples of reversible changes include testicular atrophy and low sperm count. On the other hand, irreversible changes include the development of breast tissue in men (gynecomastia) and male pattern baldness. In women, steroids disrupt hormonal balance leading to masculinization, excessive hair growth, and voice deepening.
When used in large doses, steroids can cause behavioral changes, including increased aggressiveness and irritability, delusions, mood swings, restlessness, and impaired judgment. These changes may cause users to engage in destructive behavior such as armed robbery, fighting, burglary, and vandalism. Additionally, these steroids could act as gateway drugs, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Firstly, steroids stimulate certain parts of muscle cells leading to an increase in muscle mass. That is, according to the University of Marylands Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR). Whats more, the Mayo Clinic says steroids could help users recover from taxing workouts much faster than non-users. That is because they reduce muscle damage that usually occurs during training sessions. On the negative side, steroids can cause enlargement of specific internal organs such as the prostate gland.
Why people use steroids
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reckons that most people use steroids to gain muscle mass and athletic performance. However, sports bodies including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have banned anabolic steroids. On the other hand, some people use steroids primarily as a way of dealing with physical and sexual abuse. Data published by the NIDA shows that 25% of male bodybuilders who use steroids experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Moreover, female weightlifters that have experienced sexual abuse are twice as likely to use steroids. In this case, steroid users believe a muscular physique would discourage potential molesters from targeting them. In particular, users believe a bulky frame would make them unattractive and intimidating.
Anabolic steroids affect the body in different ways. More specifically, they boost skeletal muscle mass, increase aggressiveness, and cause male pattern baldness. In women, they usually cause masculinization.
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