Anabolic Steroids: What you should knowAnabolic steroids can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS. Anabolic steroids are usually either taken orally facts on anabolic steroids injected into the muscles, although some are applied to the facts on anabolic steroids as a cream or gel. Doses taken by abusers may be 10 to times higher than doses prescribed to treat medical conditions. Anabolic steroids work very differently from other drugs of abuse, and they do not have the same acute effects on the brain. However, long-term steroid use can affect some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—including dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs, and thereby may have a significant impact on mood and behavior.
ADF - Drug Facts - Steroids
Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Testosterone is responsible for both promoting and maintaining muscle growth, and for the development of secondary male sex characteristics such as deepening voice and facial hair.
Also called anabolic-androgenic steroids AAS , these drugs have a unique ability to enhance muscle mass. Long-term, non-medical uses are associated with adverse effects, including heart problems and aggression. Here are some key points about anabolic steroids. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic versions of the primary male hormone, testosterone. They produce their effects in many parts of the body, including the muscles, bones, hair follicles, liver, kidneys, blood, immune system, reproductive system and the central nervous system. During puberty , increases in testosterone levels are responsible for the development of male characteristics such as beard and body hair growth, linear growth height , deepening voice, sex drive and muscle mass accumulation.
Testosterone also promotes the laying down of bone mineral and can contribute to competitiveness, self-esteem and aggressiveness. Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, through injections or transdermal delivery creams or gels applied directly to the skin.
Once ingested, anabolic steroids travel through the bloodstream to the muscle tissue where they bind to an androgen receptor.
The drug can subsequently interact with the cell's DNA and stimulate the protein synthesis process that promotes cell growth.
For non-medical purposes, anabolic steroids are typically taken in cycles of about weeks the on period followed by 4 weeks to several months off. This cyclical pattern is an attempt to reduce the likelihood of undesirable effects.
Despite the risk, however, some bodybuilders will take AAS almost continuously. Continuous use of AAS can lead to tolerance and may even cause the body to stop producing its own testosterone. In addition, users often combine several different types of steroids or incorporate other supplements stacking in an attempt to maximize the effectiveness of the steroids. The legal status of these medications varies from country to country.
In the US, AAS is a schedule III controlled substance available only by prescription, and their use is only legal when prescribed by a medical provider. Medical conditions primarily male treated using AAS include anemia , wounds, malnutrition , delayed onset of puberty, osteoporosis and hypogonadism. Testosterone and several of its esters, as well as methyltestosterone, nandrolone decanoate and oxandrolone, are the main anabolic-androgenic steroids currently prescribed in the US.
Otherwise, under the Controlled Substance Act, unlawful possession and distribution is subject to federal and state laws. Most athletes consume AAS on a trial-and-error basis using information gained from other athletes, coaches, websites or gym "gurus.
The prevalence of anabolic steroid use in adults is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Most users are men involved in weightlifting, bodybuilding and professional sports, but use among women and adolescents is also on the rise.
Illegal steroids are obtained from black market sources and trade, and can be purchased through dealers just as any other illegal drug is obtained. The Internet is the most widely used means of buying and selling anabolic steroids. However, there is also evidence of diversion through unscrupulous pharmacists, doctors and veterinarians. The adverse effects associated with anabolic-androgenic steroids are dependent on the age and sex of the user, the amount used and the duration of use.
Typical side effects of legally prescribed normal-dose anabolic steroids may include acne , fluid retention , gynecomastia enlarged male breasts , increased red cell count and changes in cholesterol levels. Users should follow up with their prescribing clinician and take periodic blood tests to monitor for these effects. Studies of men taking physiological doses of AAS medications found no changes in aggressive behavior. Additional side effects include hair growth, hair loss , infertility , changes in libido, decreases in HDL-cholesterol "good" cholesterol and increases in LDL-cholesterol "bad" cholesterol.
In adolescents, use of anabolic steroids can permanently stunt growth. In women, use of the drugs can induce permanent physical changes including deepening of the voice, increased facial and body hair growth and the lengthening of the clitoris. In men, use of AAS can cause shrinkage of the testicles, enlargement of the male breast tissue and sterility. Anabolic steroid use can damage the liver and can cause an increase in cholesterol levels.
Anabolic steroid use can also induce psychological effects such as aggression, increased feelings of hostility, psychological dependence and addiction. Upon abrupt termination of long-term anabolic steroid use, abusers may experience withdrawal symptoms including severe depression. Numerous health risks are associated with chronic steroid abuse, including liver and kidney damage, severe acne, fluid retention, trembling, high blood pressure , enlargement of the heart and increased risk of stroke in individuals of all ages.
Adolescent steroid users put themselves at risk for stunted growth and other problems as they are already in a vulnerable position due to changing hormones. Men risk shrinkage of the testicles testicular atrophy , reduced sperm count or infertility, baldness , development of breasts gynecomastia and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Female abusers could experience body and facial hair growth, male-pattern baldness, changes in the menstrual cycle, shrinking breasts, increased sex drive, acne and a deepening voice.
Some of these changes are permanent, even when the anabolic steroids are stopped. Abusers who inject their steroids run the added risk of contracting or transmitting blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis via shared needles. Finally, chronic AAS users can also experience psychiatric symptoms such as severe mood swings, paranoia, delusions, impaired judgment, feelings of invincibility, mania and anger "roid rage" that may lead to violence.
These extreme unwanted effects are more likely to be seen in those who have a predisposition to these types of behaviors.
There is no evidence in the available literature that legitimate medical use of AAS leads to abuse or dependence. However, long-term AAS abuse can affect some of the same brain pathways and chemicals that are affected by other drugs such as opiates, resulting in dependency and even addiction. Individuals who abuse anabolic steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.
Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue , restlessness, mood swings, depression, fatigue, insomnia , reduced sex drive and cravings. Research shows that some abusers turn to other drugs such as opioids to counteract the negative effects of chronic AAS use. The first step in treating anabolic steroid abuse is to get the individual to stop using these drugs and seek medical attention in order to address any psychiatric or physical symptoms they might have. Referral to an addiction treatment facility or counselor may be indicated.
Since sports were invented, people have cheated. From figure skaters breaking competitors' legs, to marathon runners disappearing into the crowd and taking the subway, scandal populates sporting history. Teens are risking their health in order to "bulk up" and "get toned" by using anabolic steroids and drinking protein shakes, according to a report conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and published in the journal Pediatrics. Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring hormone testosterone and have legitimate medical uses.
When legally prescribed and supervised by a medical provider, anabolic steroids are considered safe and therapeutic medications. However, the majority of use of these drugs is among bodybuilders and athletes in order to enhance their muscle strength or appearance.
Heavy AAS abuse can lead to potentially severe and sometimes irreversible negative health consequences, including early heart attack, stroke, depression and severe aggressive behavior. Article last updated on Tue 26 January All references are available in the References tab. Medical issues associated with anabolic steroid use: Hoffman and Nicholas A. UptoDate, Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism , accessed 15 January Autoptic, Histopathological and Toxicological Findings, P.
Effects of long term supplementation of anabolic androgen steroids on human skeletal muscle , Ji-Guo Yu et al. Nieschlag, Asian Journal of Andrology , doi: Effects of anabolic-androgens on brain reward function, E. Testosterone therapy in men with androgen deficiency syndromes: What you should know. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.
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Register for a free account Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Register take the tour. Table of contents What are anabolic steroids? Prevalence Side effects Health risks Withdrawal. Fast facts on anabolic steroids Here are some key points about anabolic steroids.
The first reports of AAS use occurred following the world weightlifting championships, and the International Olympic Committee their use in Illegal use of AAS may involve doses 10 to times higher than the normal prescription dose.
AAS are prescriptive controlled substances in the United States, but in many countries, they can be sold without a prescription for non-medicinal purposes. All synthetic steroids combine the anabolic—or muscle-building—effects with the androgenic, or secondary male sexual characteristics. AAS use has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, injected or applied directly to the skin. Most illegal users of anabolic steroids are men involved in bodybuilding, weightlifting and professional sports. The use of anabolic steroids can lead to many undesirable changes to the human body. Recent developments on anabolic steroids from MNT news Doping in sports: