Fitness, appearance and performance enhancements are only a few of the reasons why steroids are widely used drug. Many athletes and health buffs use it for muscle and male hormone enhancement which can accelerate the muscle gaining process, improve physical skills, and expedite recovery from a muscle injury.

Steroids are not all about muscle enhancement, as what common knowledge will tell you. This drug is also used to help treat inflammatory conditions such as bronchitis, or diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Admittedly, steroids are a widely abused drug, mostly because of its muscle enhancement properties which make it perfect to market on those who wish to expedite their muscle and body development.

Like any other drug, too much use and abuse can bring negative side effects to one’s health. However, research recommends caution on the use of this drug, especially with little to no physician’s advice. This is an deeper look into this widely infamous drug.

Steroids: What Exactly are They?

For the layman, the terms “steroid use” will immediately turn on the belief that this drug’s purpose is to accelerate the development of muscles, and is mostly used by health buffs you will see in gyms. The instant picture will be a man with bulging muscles flexing and working on a 10-pound dumbbell press. While there is some truth to that image, steroids are not all muscles.

There are many kinds of steroids and all have different uses, but the two main types and most commonly used are anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. Anabolic steroids are the type that works with male testosterone and faster muscle development. On the other hand, corticosteroids are kind of a prescription drug that is used to reduce inflammation and swelling. There is a wide use of steroids in the UK, from both anabolic and corticosteroids.

Anabolic steroids are the type that is commonly misused and abused. Athletes and health buffs use this to enhance testosterone levels, but can throw off balance in the body functions which can lead to negative side effects.

Why are Anabolic Steroids Prescribed?

One might ask: if anabolic steroids can have long term negative effects when abused, why then would it still be prescribed? Why not just recommend the natural way of enhancing performance and developing muscles. It is not, in fact, for lack of physicians’ advice to prefer the natural way of bodybuilding.

Anabolic steroids are prescribed for athletes with a need to enhance their athletic performance for a shorter period than expected. It is also prescribed to athletes or even non-athletes, to treat injuries in the muscles. Other prescriptions for anabolic steroids are for treating muscles for individuals with AIDS or specific types of cancer.

What Could it Hurt?

It is no question, and to put emphasis on this, that steroid abuse can bring negative side effects to the body and to the general physical, emotional and psychological attributes of an individual.

First off, it is illegal to use steroids without a doctor’s prescription. This goes without saying that it is absolutely illegal, and can mean prison and fine penalties, to possess, sell and distribute steroids without a permit. Because of this drug’s capability that can affect the whole body, it is strongly advised that it only be used under a doctor’s supervision.

Short term and long term side effects have been seen on those who abuse anabolic steroids. Among the common short term side effects for both men and women are:

  • Acne
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Sleeping problems
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Decrease in sex drive

You will notice that the majority of the short term side effects are on psychological balance and reproductive health.

There are also long term side effects, and these are far more troubling. Among these side effects are:

  • Reproductive health issues: fertility problems, irregular menstrual cycle for women, impotence, and shrinking of the testicles
  • Hormonal imbalance: women can develop deeper voices; men can grow breasts and excessive hair growth for both
  • Psychological changes: constant and regular mood swings, mania, anxiety, paranoia
  • Physiological and health hazards: heart problems, elevated blood pressure, kidney failure, and developing tumors

Dependence and Withdrawal

With the abuse and addiction to steroids out of the question, it is safe to say that dependence to this drug can easily develop. Psychologically looking at it, after long use of steroids, an individual may think that he/she might not be able to function well without injecting a dosage. The same can be said for individuals addicted to other kinds of drugs.

The good news is that, like any other drug addiction, steroid dependency can be eliminated, thus also eliminating its life-threatening side effects. Withdrawal treatment is used to wean off the use of steroids for individuals who have developed a dependency to it. Of course, it is still highly recommended to seek a doctor’s help especially when one feels dependency on the drug and would want to withdraw from it.

Doctors anticipate withdrawal effects from the drug such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased sex drive and chronic muscle pains. As these are expected effects of withdrawal, doctors can help alleviate them.

Steroids: In Conclusion

Steroid use is not all that bad. This is a widely known and used drug by many athletes from all around the globe. This is also a prescription drug for some cancer and AIDS patients. Ideally, this drug is greatly helpful for patients and even athletes who want to be better physically. In reality, however, because of the muscle-enhancing properties of steroids, it seems like an easy-going drug for many – harmless and helpful.

As research would recommend and prove over and over, the abuse of this drug can lead to serious side effects, some even life-threatening. So it is always important to seek a doctor’s advice before using steroids. Otherwise, the abuse to this drug can do more harm than good to your body.