Most steroids that are used today are anabolic steroids – or more precisely, anabolic/androgenic steroids. They belong to a group known as ergogenic, or so-called “performance-enhancing” drugs (“Anabolic Steroids…,” 2). Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds that mimic testosterone. Testosterone is a natural hormone found in humans, largely in males, that is responsible for muscle development. Anabolic steroid is the term for a substance that builds up body tissue by promoting the growth of muscle tissue (Nardo, 19). The main effect of steroids on muscles is to reduce fatigue and increase the amount of work they can do before tiring (Pesmen, 97). Steroids can be natural or artificial, and there are dozens of different versions of the drug.
Steroids have two basic uses: medical and performance-enhancing. The use of steroids in the medical profession can help many people. Anabolic steroids were originally developed to help cancer patients and victims of starvation. Steroids are now used to aid a variety of problems. They are used to treat skin ailments, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, allergies, and various eye diseases. They have also been effective in healing injuries as well as treating malnutrition, problems with bones, and some blood disorders. Sometimes, doctors use steroids to offset the harsh effects of cancer radiation treatments (Nardo, 20). When used properly and under direct medical supervision, steroids can benefit many sick and suffering people.
Steroids, also known as “roids,” “gas,” or “juice,” can be taken two ways, whether used legally or illegally. Anabolic steroids are usually taken in pill form (“Anabolic Steroids…,” 5). Users take them like they would any other pill. Steroids can also be injected. Research shows that the injectible variety may pose less risk of damage to the liver and other organs (Pesmen, 97). Inserting the one and a half inch needles into their thighs or buttocks leaves many teens squeamish, and they often rely on a trusted friend to do the job (Schrof, 61).
One big risk of using needles is the possibility of contracting AIDS.
Anabolic Steroids Use by Athletes: A Threat to Body and Mind
“Anything of worth or value in life must be worked for.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the world of sports today, anabolic/androgenic steroid use is a vast problem. Since its’ introduction into Russian weightlifting, it has been expanding with no signs of stopping. It has spread into every major sport, with usage by every age and race. The use continues to grow, even with a lengthy list of serious health, legal, and ethical concerns. Because of our society’s adoration of muscle, athletes put their athletic goals higher on their priority list than their long-term health. From Hulk Hogan to Arnold Schwarzenegger, our heroes all fit the superhuman mold. The government has tried various laws and programs to cut down on usage, but these programs have had little or no effect. It has become one of the biggest problems in organized sports, yet it does not receive a proportional amount of attention. Steroid use has become an epidemic, and something must be done to stop it.
Anabolic/androgenic steroids are synthetic variants of the natural hormone testosterone (James 7). At its naturally produced levels, testosterone is very good. In males, it helps promote protein anabolism (building), stimulates production of sperm, and has metabolic effects on muscle, bone, and skin (Goldman 72). Anabolic steroids are used medically to treat types of anemia, some breast cancers, osteoporosis, endometriosis, and hereditary angioedema (NIDA 2). But anabolic steroids are often taken at 10 to 100 times the natural, physiological levels by athletes looking for an edge in training (Yesalis xxv).
Steroids come in two basic forms: water-based and oil-based. The water-based are taken in pill form. The most common oral steroid, by far, is Dianabol or “D…
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Goldman, Bob, and Ronald Klatz. Death In The Locker Room II: Drugs and Sports. Chicago: Elite Sports Medicine, 1992.
James, Michael. “Steroids: Bulk Up, Up.” High School Sports Feb. 1989: 18- 22. SIRS “Sports”, vol. 3, article 64.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Anabolic Steroids: A Threat to Body and Mind.” NIDA: Research Paper Series 1991: 1-9. SIRS “Drugs”, vol. 5, article 21.
“O’Brien, David, and Robbie Andreu. Rx for Disaster.” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 14 July 1991: 1C . SIRS “Drugs”, vol. 5, article 31.
Schrof, Joannie M. “Pumped Up.” U.S. News and World Report 1 June 1992: 54 . SIRS “Drugs”, vol. 5, article 52.
Silverstein, Robert, et al. Steroids: Big Muscles, Big Problems. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1992.
Yesalis, Charles, ed. Anabolic Steroids In Sport and Exercise. Pennsylvania State University: Human Kinetics, 1993.