Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances, typically derived from testosterone, that aid in enhancing muscles and making bones stronger. A prescription is required for the compound, which is sometimes used to treat late puberty and muscle deficiency caused by certain diseases. Anabolic steroids abuse occurs when individuals acquire the substance illegally and misuse the manmade compound by taking high doses. Sometimes seen in athletics, steroids may be used illegally to gain an unfair advantage in competitions. However, anabolic steroids abuse may negatively affect users physiologically and psychologically, and can even lead to death.
A reason for steroid abuse is to enhance athletic performance. The misuse of steroids allows a person, particularly a bodybuilder, to become more muscular and have less body fat. Steroids may also be used illegally in sports by as many as 6 percent of athletes, as the drugs can help a person to recover faster from an injury. In addition to use for athletic performance, a person may misuse steroids if he or she has a low body-image.
Anabolic steroids abuse may have a host of health consequences. The use of steroids interferes with the normal manufacture of hormones, and male abusers run the risk of their testicles shrinking. In turn, the overuse of steroids causes improper production of sperm and sterility. After being clean of steroids for at least six months, a male’s sperm count may return to normal. Males who misuse the drugs also are prone to losing their hair and growing breasts.
Females who abuse steroids may develop permanent masculine traits. These can include the growth of facial hair and body hair, balding, and development of a deeper voice. In addition, female abusers may see a decrease in breast size and have fewer menstrual periods.
Teens and young people who misuse steroids run certain risks as well. Bones may continue to grow past a person’s 18th birthday. By abusing steroids, young people may shortchange themselves in the height department as the drugs can cause the bones to stop growing prematurely.
Both men and women of all ages may be prone to developing liver cysts, liver cancer, and blood clotting through anabolic steroid abuse. Additional health risks include hypertension, which may lead to heart attacks and strokes. Steroid abusers who share unclean needles may develop life-threatening viral infections, most notably HIV and hepatitis B. Abuse of anabolic steroids can affect a person’s behavior, causing him or her to become more aggressive and moody. When a person tries to stop using steroids, it is not uncommon to experience depression, agitation, and fatigue.
Treatment for anabolic steroids abuse may involve support therapy. During treatment, a person may be watched closely to see if he or she develops any thoughts about suicide. In severe instances, a person may require hospitalization or medication.