Essay, Research Paper
What are steroids? Steroids are synthetic chemicals that mimic the hormones produced by the body. Hormones control bodily functions and are separated into various classifications such as adrenal, cortical, cardiac, bile salts, vitamins, and sex hormones. Anabolic steroids that build muscle tissue are classified as sex hormones and they stimulate the action of the male sex hormone testosterone. When testosterone is released at the appropriate time it has the natural effects of creating body size, bone size, body hair, sex organ maturation, and muscle tissue development. They often have many different trade names or brand names. Commonly used anabolic steroids are Anavar, Sustanon, and Dianabol.
Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medicines. They are not controlled under the misuse of drugs act. It is not illegal to possess them for personal use. It is an offense to supply them. They can only be acquired from a chemist with a doctor’s prescription. In addition, there is a large illicit market in anabolic steroids.
The primary use of anabolic-androgenic steroids is in replacement therapy for male testosterone. Other medical uses include growth promotion in certain forms of stunted growth, osteoporosis, mammary carcinoma, animas, and hereditary angioneurotic edema. The use of various physical and chemical aids in performance enhancement has been a feature of athletic competition since the beginning of recorded history. The ancient Greeks ate sesame seeds, bufotenin was used by the berserks in Norwegian mythology, and the Andean Indians and the Australian aborigines chewed, respectively, coca leaves and the pituri plant for stimulating and anti-fatiguing effects (Bowman, 1980).
Athletes have used anabolic steroids to enhance appearance and performance for years. The first ergogenic use of anabolic-androgenic steroids was reported back in the 1950’s among weightlifters and bodybuilders. “Bowman reported that one-third of a sample of elite track and field athletes in Great Britain admitted to systematic anabolic-androgenic steroid use by 1972″ (Bowman, 1980). “Silvester reported that 68% of a sample interviewed at the 1972 Olympic Games from 7 different countries, and who were competing in such diverse activities as throwing, jumping, vaulting, sprinting, and running up to 5000m, admitted to having used anabolic-androgenic steroids” (Bowman, 1980). Although it was actually suggested early in 1973 and stressed later, it is now evident that the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids is not limited to the elite athletes but has now trickled down to the amateur, professional, college, high school, and even junior high athletes. Due to the estimated prevalence of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid use and the implications for society and public health there were several scientific meetings set up. Moreover, a technical review at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1989 was set up, and both federal and state investigations to reclassify anabolic-androgenic steroids as controlled substances despite arguments from the American Medical Association.
Patterns of anabolic-androgenic steroid use among athletes have been determined from several surveys. Hickson and Kurowski interviewed 24 weight-training athletes at a gymnasium in a metropolitan area of the southwestern United States. “The Subjects surveyed took a combined steroid dose of four to eight times the recommended medical dose, Used more than one anabolic-androgenic steroid at a time, which is known as stacking, and combined the use of intravenous and oral anabolic-androgenic steroids” (Hickson, 1986, p. 465). Although Hickson and Kurowski questioned a specific sample of anabolic-androgenic steroid users, they concluded that their subjects seemed to be representative of the type of athletes who used anabolic-androgenic steroids. Two other groups of people also conducted very similar surveys and found that their subjects were also taking well over the recommended medical dose.
In 1990 Baldoenzi and Giada conducted a survey and found that 110 out of 250 weightlifters he interviewed in several gymnasiums in the metropolitan Chicago area, many of, which had no intentions of being competitive, also used a variety of anabolic-androgenic steroids. 50 weightlifters were interviewed in detail, a majority had no competitive interests in weightlifting, bodybuilding, or any other athletic event just used the steroids because they wanted to. “Baldoenzi and Giada concluded that anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse had reached alarming proportions in noncompetitive athletes” (Baldoenzi, 1990, p. 205).
The Buckley survey in 1988 suggests that one-quarter to one-half million adolescents in the United States has used or is currently using anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anderson and Mckeag reporting on a nation-wide survey of alcohol and drug use among college athletes indicated that “anabolic-androgenic steroids were used in all men’s sports, one women’s sport and that the sport with the greatest admitted use was football with 9%” (Bowman, 1980). The overall anabolic-androgenic steroid use rate in all sports was 4%. “Anderson and Mckeag replicated their original study four years later and although they found that overall use rates for anabolic-androgenic steroids remained the same, anabolic-androgenic steroids were now being used in two additional women’s sports” (Bowman, 1980).
The psychological and behavioral aspects of maleness were noted by Aristotle prior to 300 BC and were studied in numerous uncontrolled experiments up through the 1800s. The effects of the purified sex hormones, including those on mood and mental disorders, began to be experimentally and clinically explored more intensively a half century ago when commercial preparations became available. Since that time a large number of literature reviews have been reported on these and other effects.
The most potent sex steroid produced in human males is testosterone. Testosterone has been chemically characterized and more than 100 derivatives synthesized, some of which have found uses in human and veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, and most recently, in athletics. A Purely anabolic steroid has not been found and, therefore, Kockakain suggests that the appropriate nomenclature should refer to anabolic-androgenic steroids.
What do steroids actually do for you? Steroids increase your strength. They also increase your muscle mass and allow you to train harder. Steroids also reduce recovery time needed after training. Some people believe the benefit from taking steroids is psychological, they make people feel that they are stronger or faster. Others believe that they make people feel more aggressive and so they are able to train harder. There is no doubt about that. The major question is “Are the positives worth taking the risks for.” There are far more negatives to using anabolic steroids then there are positives. Anabolic steroids affect males in seven major ways: 1) They can make the testicles shrink and deteriorate (even after just six to eight weeks of use) 2) they can reduce sperm count for up to four years 3) they cause the development of tender and enlarged breasts 4) they cause early aging symptoms 5) they cause sterility and impotence 6) also they make your voice high-pitched 7) They cause baldness. Anabolic steroids affect females in eight major ways: 1) They stop or cause irregularity in your menstrual periods 2) they cause permanent reproductive damage 3) they cause infertility 4) they make hair grow on your face and chest 5) they deepen your voice 6) they cause fetal damage and birth deformities 7) they make your skin very oily 8) they increase testosterone production and take on masculine characteristics. Anabolic steroids have many other more dangerous affects that can occur in both genders. They are as follows: 1) Cause addiction to steroids 2) hallucinations, hearing voices, schizophrenia, and mental disorders 3) aggressiveness, violence, hostility, irritability, “roid rages” or uncontrolled temper 4) purple or red spots inside mouth or nose 5) yellow tint to skin, jaundice, chronic hepatitis 6) swelling of hands, face, feet 7) acne, rashes, hives 8) severe depression and suicidal tendencies 9) increased size of heart, liver, kidneys 10) increased cholesterol count and blood pressure 11) suppress immune system and retard healing 12) fever, headache, insomnia, chills, gallstones 13) diarrhea, stomach ache, muscle cramps, black tarry stools 14) liver cancer, heart disease, stroke, obstructed blood vessels 15) bone deterioration.
Steroids have been used to enhance performance and appearance since the beginning of recorded history. Now all ages of athletes are using anabolic steroids, not just the elite athletes are using them but now even high school athletes are using them. In 1989 anabolic steroids became a controlled substance because of an investigation conducted by the American Medical Association. Several Surveys have shown that there are patterns in the use of anabolic steroids. Now athletes who don’t actually participate in competition are using the drug, where before it used to be only competing athletes as the primary users. Steroids have both positive and negative affects. The positive affects are generally short-term affects while the negative affects tend to be more long-term. Using anabolic steroids and testing positive on a drug test will more than likely ruin a sporting career for anyone. The bottom line is taking steroids is cheating, it’s addictive, and they can kill you.
Baldoenzi G, Giada F. (1990). Body builders during and after self-administration of anabolic steroids. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 39, 203-8.
Bowman S. (1980). Anabolic steroids and infarction. British Medical Journal, 300, 750.
Hickson, R.C. and Kurowski, T.G.(1986). Anabolic steroids and training. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 3, 461-469
Unknown. (1996). IDEA Prevention Guide. Naperville, IL: IDEA