Anabolic Steroids – Drugs in Sports
Definition of Anabolic Steroids
Natural hormones are chemicals produced in the body. The purpose of hormones is to change or regulate body processes. Anabolic steroids are synthetic hormones replicating testosterone, a male hormone. Anabolic steroids also fall into the class of performance-enhancing drugs. When the body produces testosterone naturally, it can increase muscle by directing proteins to make more muscle. Testosterone can also increase red blood cell volume, improve bone density, cause body hair and vocal cords to become thicker, and enhance the growth of the prostate gland. Naturally, men produce between 2 and 10 milligrams of testosterone daily. People can administer steroids orally or by injection. If injected, steroids remain in the body for a longer time.
What do Anabolic Steroids Do in the Body?
People who take anabolic steroids often take doses much larger than what a physician would prescribe for therapeutic reasons. Anabolic steroid use will cause a deepening of the voice, enlargement of male sexual glands, increase in bone density and muscle growth, increased hair growth, and an enlargement of internal organs.
People Who Use Anabolic Steroids and Reasons
Male and female athletes have begun using anabolic steroids to improve physical training and to increase sports performance. Many athletes believe that anabolic steroid use is widespread, despite the issues of ethical conduct involved in the use of anabolic steroids. Athletes may rationalize that to maintain a competitive edge in their sport, they must take anabolic steroids. Weight-lifters may use steroids to increase muscle mass and to improve appearance. Athletes taking anabolic steroids may follow a specific course, described as “cycling” or “pyramiding.” This cyclical use may involve starting a dosage of steroids, combining different forms of the drug, varying dosage levels over a period of time, and pausing the steroid use for a period of time. Athletes follow these cycles to allow the body time to recuperate from the steroids and to help the body adjust more easily to high doses of the drugs.
Prevalence of Steroid Use
Non-medical use of anabolic steroids may be increasing among some age groups. However, estimating the true prevalence of steroid use can be difficult because statistical data does not include anabolic steroids specifically. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that the range of athletes using anabolic steroids is between 1 and 6 percent.
Which Anabolic Drugs Are Banned by the NCAA?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has stringent policies about drug use among athletes participating in collegiate-level sports. The list of drugs banned by the NCAA includes all anabolic agents, stimulants, alcohol and beta blockers, diuretics, peptid hormones, antiestrogens, and beta-2 agonists. Drugs used to mask anabolic steroid use are also banned by the NCAA.
What Are the Types of Anabolic Steroids?
Corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids. These medications are used to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids are available as inhalants, oral pills, injection, or topical ointments. Anabolic steroids for increasing muscle mass are available as oral medication or injection.
Are There Differences Between Oral and Injectable Steroids?
Steroids affect the body differently, depending on the form of the drug. Oral steroids enter the digestive system and the body absorbs them. During the absorption process, the liver metabolizes the chemicals contained in the drug. Injectable steroids enter the body directly into the muscle, which involves a slower absorption process. Injecting steroids bypasses absorption by the liver. Injected steroids remain detectable in the body for a longer period than oral steroids.
What are the Medical Uses of Anabolic Steroids?
Physicians may prescribe anabolic steroids for treatment of medical issues such as osteoporosis, cancer, anemia, gonadal dysfunction, gynecological disorders, and to resolve growth issues.
How do Anabolic Steroids Affect an Athlete’s Health?
Misusing anabolic steroids can result in serious health and behavioral issues. Steroids can lead to issues with memory and judgment. The dangers of steroids involve side effects that can cause both short-term and long-term health issues.
Common side effects of steroids include:
- Appetite increase
- Cholesterol level increase
- Energy increase
- Fluid retention
- Hair growth changes
- High blood pressure
- Kidney tumors
- Libido changes
- Liver tumors
- Mood swings
- Personality changes
- Prostate gland enlargement
- Psychological dependence
- Sexual problems
- Sleep issues
- Sperm production decrease
- Testicular atrophy
- Voice deepening
Other dangers of anabolic steroid abuse include HIV from sharing needles and injury to muscles, tendons, and joints from overuse and over-training, In addition, steroids affect the brain, having an impact on the behavior of people taking these chemicals. Mixing anabolic steroids with alcohol can increase the odds of serious long-term health issues from the drug.