According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than one million Americans admit to using anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS). Of these, roughly 660,000 are high school students between the ages of 14 and 17. What’s more, steroids have been met with a more favorable opinion in recent years, particularly among students. According to data collected, a growing number of high school seniors believe that anabolic steroids are harmless.
What Are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone, the sex hormone that gives males their masculine characteristics. The drugs have legitimate medical uses, such as in hormone replacement therapy for men struggling with low testosterone. When provided in controlled doses under a physician’s care, steroids can help improve libido, sexual performance, strength, mood, energy and body weight in these men.
However, because higher levels of testosterone enhance performance, increase stamina and strength and make it easier to gain large amounts of muscle, they’re commonly misused by body builders and athletes. Indeed, this improvement in competitive edge, along with their potential for harm, is why steroids are banned in sports. Sadly, this hasn’t done much to discourage the practice. New steroids are always being created that manage, for a time, to go undetected when testing athletes for performance-enhancing drugs.
How Are Steroids Harmful?
Anabolic steroids can cause harm in a variety of ways. However, their effects depend on the particular steroid being used. Many cause physical harm by increasing blood pressure and promoting thrombosis (blood clots), hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart enlargement. This sets the stage for not only heart disease and heart attack, but also stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Using steroids can also have a significant negative impact on the tendons, ligaments and cartilage that make up the joints. Steroids interfere with the body’s ability to repair its tissues, and those of the joints already heal more slowly than others. When combined with the wear and tear of training, this effect causes joints to degrade rapidly, potentially resulting in serious chronic problems.
In addition, steroids are famous for causing water retention, and that is one of the easiest ways to spot a steroid user. The main concern many people have with this side effect is that it makes them appear bloated and puffy. However, steroid-induced water retention is directly responsible for the rise in blood pressure.
The use of anabolic steroids is also known to have social and psychological side effects. Testosterone promotes impulsivity, stress, aggression and irrational behavior while decreasing empathy. Therefore, the unnaturally high levels caused by taking steroids results in an abnormal increase in these traits. This effect is commonly known as “Roid Rage.” In light of this, it’s unsurprising that steroid users are also more likely to run afoul of the law. Crimes like rape, assault, disorderly conduct, domestic violence and even murder are considerably more likely under the influence of steroids. That’s to say nothing of simply possessing steroids. Anabolic steroids are controlled substances. This means that they’re illegal to possess or use without a doctor’s prescription. Violation of this law is a felony and can result in fines and prison time.
Getting Help at A Forever Recovery
Steroids can and do become addictive. Users often become hooked on the feelings of power, confidence and invincibility that comes with extreme testosterone levels. If you or someone you love are abusing anabolic steroids, getting help from an inpatient treatment center is crucial. Without treatment, steroid abuse won’t just ruin your health. It could also destroy your life and relationships. Inpatient treatment removes steroid users from the situations that influence their use and provides them with a safe, comfortable and medically monitored environment to recover in. This makes it much more likely that former steroid users will continue to stay clean.