An Anabolic steroid can be defined as a synthetic variation of the male sex hormone testosterone. Anabolic steroids are used to increase muscle growth, enhance performance both in competitive and uncompetitive sporting activities or medically to treat muscle degeneration among other conditions. In most cases, the use of anabolic steroids is neither regulated nor overseen by a qualified medical practitioner. But this presents a number of risks for the user given that the dosage, frequency and length of intake is not supervised by a medical practitioner.
Use by teenagers
With exposure to the internet and information, more teenagers are experimenting with steroids early in life. This brings about the risk of development of cognitive problems. This may include attention and focus disorders, impulsive and aggressive behaviour as well as anxiety. Teenagers who use steroids for prolonged periods are at a higher risk of cardiovascular problems and in some cases, they may also experience stroke. Besides these, the side effects that may come about due to use of steroids may diminish the quality of life of the teenager in future. It may also delay puberty in boys.
Use by women
As mentioned earlier, steroids are derivatives of the male hormone known as testosterone. When women take these steroids, they may start developing male like characteristics including; a deep and masculine voice, masculine body structures, baldness, increase in the presence of bodily hair and changes in their reproductive health. The women may have problems conceiving, carrying pregnancies to term and even producing enough milk to nurse their children. Other risks include increased probability of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, liver abnormalities, brast cancer, endometriosis, extreme cases of hormonal imbalance and conditions that may result from the imbalance amongst others.
Prolonged use of steroids may lead to an addiction that may prove hard to get over. But are all steroid users at risk of getting addicted? There are many factors that dictate whether or not one can get addicted to any drug or steroid. For example, if there are members of the family that have had drug addiction problems or you may have struggled with other forms of drugs, you may be at risk of steroid addiction.
Addiction symptoms include: impaired performance in anything without the use of steroids, cravings, requiring higher quantities of the steroid to achieve effects that you could achieve with a lower dosage before and withdrawal like symptoms when you have not used steroids in a while. Once you start experiencing these, it is prudent to visit a rehabilitation centre to get help before it gets worse. Remember that addiction and dependence may also recur and therefore those who have had an addiction should avoid using steroids in entirety.
What does research say?
The study of steroids on human beings is restricted for a number of reasons. First, it is illegal to give high dosages of steroids to human beings for study purposes. Secondly, prolonged use of steroids has many effects and therefore researchers cannot give steroids to their study subjects for long. This restricts them to short term studies although there are numerous risks involved. The absence of long term studies only heightens the problem- that you may experience symptoms and conditions that may not have been foreseen. That said, it is risky to use anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. The risk increases for those that are not regulated and when taken without the supervision of a medical practitioner