, Research Paper
The Psychological Effects of Using Steriods
Anabolic Steriods. What are they? Where do they come from? Why are they used? From amateurs to pros, from body builders to football players and every sport in between, Steriods, or “roids” as they are referred to, have been in the circle of athletes since the 1950 s. Is it vanity that drives athletes to use steriods? Do they understand the end results from the abuse of “roids”? What psychological effects do steriods have on users?
In order to understand the psychological effects of steriods, you must first understand what steriods are and where they come from. The natural form of steriods is the hormone testosterone, which is produced in males by the testes and adrenal glands and by the adrenal glands in females. The body uses these hormones to combat inflammation, stimulate development of bones and muscles, contributes to the growth of skin and hair and can also influnece emotions. Anabolic Steriods, also known as “juice”, are a synthetic version of the hormone testosterone. When taken, either orally or injected, these synthetic steriods fool the body into thinking that testosterone is being produced and therefore the body shuts down functions involving testosterone(Mishra 2). Given the right training stimulus and diet, these steriods enables the user to process protien into muscle fibers at astonishing rates, creating increased muscle size and strength with a drop in body fat (due to an increase in metabolic rate) (Silver 1). They are, in effect, the chemical essence of manliness, pysical power and masculine aggression (Nichols 38).
Synthetic steriods were developed in the 1930 s to rebuild and prevent the breakdown of body tissue from disease. In the 1950 s, synthetic steriods became popular with athletes because they helped produce this greater-than-normal muscle size and strength, but the abuse of these synthetic steriods has many dangerous physical and psychological effects.
Steriods are fast catching up with antibiotics as the most abused class of drugs prescribed by doctors even though they cannot cure one single condition. All steriods can do is supress the bodies ability to express a normal response. Sometimes suppression will give the body a chance to heal itself, but more often causes permanent damage. Doctors, by law, cannot prescribe anabolic steriods for the purpose of athletic enhancement, and possession of these steriods without a prescription is a felony, but today there are an estimated one million current or former illegal-steriod users in the United States (Nichols 1). So why would an individual choose to break the law and ignor the consequesces, both physical and legal, of using steriods?
From the time children are old enough to join a little league team, parents, coaches, and society in general, thrust the talented young athletes into early sports development programs, glorify the youngsters for willing to risk their bodies in order to win, demand that they aspire to greatness at any cost, and pass on the vision that winning isn t everything, it s the only thing! Thus, by the time these youngsters become teenagers “juicing” is a frequent topic of discussion. They are now subjected to peer pressure and self justification for using steriods. They fear their performance will not be as good as it could be and therefore will diminish their self-esteem. Some student athletes can feel so pressured to succeed in their sports because they are constantly told that taking risks in sports is essential to success, that if you are really good the pros will draft you and you will make millions. Just pick up any sports magazine or watch commercials. Do you see skinny, wimpy looking athletes promoting a product? No. You see good looking, muscular and well built athletes leading you to believe that if you buy this product you can play as well, and look as good as they do.
Society demands and rewards great athletic ability and success, so young people do not concern themselves with the long term effects of using steriods. They know that “roids” can give them what nature hadn t: strength, muscle size and that lean, hungry look and they can have all these things now! The desire to make the team or to impress their peers is much more immediate than the future prospect of possible damage to the liver, heart, or other vital organs and the long term consequences. The social pressure of appearance is the greatest force that drives young men to the use of steroids. Many young men feel the need to look “masculine,” that is strong and muscular. Bodybuilding stresses such muscularity, and some men, and women, abuse anabolic steriods to increase muscle mass and definition (Mishra 2). Steroids are an “ego” drug and society sets the standards. One s appearance plays a critical part of acceptance in society, thus the need to look strong and muscular. To create a body with large and well defined muscles, the “Mr Olympia” look.
Along with the enhanced physical appearance comes an increase in self-confidence and esteen. While these drugs normall do not produce a physical addiction the psychological addiction is very real. An emotional high that comes with an improved body. So what happens when users terminate the use of steriods? They have become so dependant on their appearance and the “pumped” feeling they had while on the steriods, when they discontinue their use, they become depressed, can t sleep, can t eat properly, and can possilby become suicidal due to the psychological “withdraw” symptoms. They become so psychologically dependant on the drugs to produce that incredible appearance they had and they like their looks and increased strength so much they cannot stop using them (Silver 2).
The use of steroids by females is not as common as with men. Again, appearance plays the role here also. Steroids in women causes irreversible masculinization, muscle size and a leaner looking body but promotes the growth of hair on all parts of the body, lowers their voices and decreases the size of their breasts. These characteristics are not as appealing to their appearances or to society, they produce the opposite feeling of self esteem and confidence that men on steroids have, but some females like to compete and do not mind the manly side effects.
Each and everyone of us cares about our appearance and the way we feel about ourselves. From the way we wear our hair, the clothes we wear, right down to the cars we drive and the homes we live in, we want to be noticed. All these things make us feel better about ourselves. We follow thelatest fashions, styles and trends because we want to fit in and we want acceptance from our peers and society. We spend endless hours and countless numbers of dollars on all sorts of miracle products promising us all the ways to achieve these goals, such as the miracle diet pills and weight loss plans. We are willing to do whatever it takes in order to fit in. Some people are never satisfied with the way they look, even those who use steriods and have those muscular bodies will always want bigger, better and more .
If we cannot control our competitive nature, self love, ego and vanity and if society, as a whole, doesn t change the way it demands and rewards the “body beautiful”, and if people cannot learn to be the best they can be, physically as well as psychologically, without performance enhancing drugs, there will always be the desire to achieve the perfect body no matter what the physical or psychological cost.