Mainstream Anabolic Steroid Use

by Christine Hronec

In today’s society people are willing to take great risk to excel in sports and perform their jobs better. We also live in a society where image is paramount to some people. Therefore, the popularity of performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and anabolic steroid substitute products are the choice of some people to achieve these goals. Steroid abuse is still a problem despite the illegality of the drug and the banning of steroids by various sports authorities and sports governing bodies.

Anabolic steroids are illegal synthetic derivatives of testosterone most commonly taken to build muscle mass. Once viewed as a problem strictly associated with body builders and professional athletes, the abuse of steroids is prevalent in today’s society. This widespread problem is no longer limited to the bodybuilding industry. Anabolic steroid use has spread throughout society including school aged children, athletes, fitness buffs, and business professionals. The competitive advantage and/or improved physical performance is the main reason for individuals such as bodyguards, construction workers, and law enforcement officers provide as their reason for taking these drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that more than half a million students in grades 8-10 in the United States are now using steroids and that high school seniors do not view steroids as “risky” all going to show how far reaching the issue has become.

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. Both males and females have testosterone produced in their bodies: males in the testes, and females in the ovaries and other tissues. The full name for this class of drugs is androgenic (promoting masculine characteristics) anabolic (tissue building)steroids (the class of drugs). The most abused steroids include Deca-Durabolin® , Durabolin ® , Equipoise® , and Winstrol®, where the common street names for anabolic steroids include arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, and juice.

Legitimate medical steroid administration includes oral and intravenous methods. Steroid abuse occurs when these drugs are taken up to 100 times the therapeutic dosage levels. Athletes (middle or high school, college, professional, and Olympic) usually take steroids for a limited period of time to achieve a particular goal. Others such as bodybuilders, law enforcement officers, fitness buffs, and body guards usually take steroids for extended periods of time varying from a couple of days to more than 12 months.

Short-term side effects may include sexual and reproductive disorders, fluid retention, and severe acne. The short-term side effects in men are reversible with discontinuation of steroid use. Masculinizing effects seen in women, such as deepening of the voice, body and facial hair growth, enlarged clitoris, and baldness are not reversible. The long-term adverse physical effects of anabolic steroid abuse in men and in women, other than masculinizing effects, have not been studied, and as such, are not known. However, it is speculated that possible long-term effects may include adverse cardiovascular effects such as heart damage and stroke.

Despite all these health risks, people continue to abuse steroids and stricter laws are being enforced ensure public safety and health. The possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a valid prescription is illegal. Simple possession of illicitly obtained anabolic steroids carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if it is individual’s first drug offense. The maximum penalty for trafficking is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is the individual’s first felony drug offense. If this is the second felony drug offense, the maximum period of imprisonment and the maximum fine both double. While the above listed penalties are for federal offenses, individual states have also implemented fines and penalties for illegal use of anabolic steroids. State executive offices have also recognized the seriousness of steroid abuse and other drugs of abuse in schools. For example, The State of Virginia enacted a new law that will allow student drug testing as a legitimate school drug prevention program. Some other states and individual school districts are considering implementing similar measures.

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