Steroid abuse occurs when an individual uses steroids for non-medical purposes, i.e. athletic or physique enhancement. Steroids, or more correctly anabolic-androgenic steroids, are developed primarily to treat male hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce sufficient amount of the sex hormone testosterone. Now, with over 100 varieties of steroids in the market, this class of drugs medicates myriad diseases in both the human and animal population. And with such an assortment of steroids around, an individual can have a wide array of ‘boosters’ and ‘pumpers’ to abuse.
Who Abuse Steroids?
It is wrong to think that steroid abuse is exclusively practiced by people engaged in professional sports. Steroid abuse also takes place in the amateur, collegiate, and high school levels of athletics. Steroid abuse is also prevalent amongst those in entertainment and modeling industries; professions that put so much import on physical assets. This risky practice is likewise observed amongst teens who want to emulate famous celebrities or athletes.
Impressionable as they are, some teens would imitate their idols in looks, behavior, performance, etc., despite of dire consequences.
Reasons why people abuse steroids:
Steroids are analogs of the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone is necessary for anabolic and androgenic effects to occur in the body. The anabolic effects refer to the processes that promote growth of the body’s musculoskeletal system. The androgenic effects, on the other hand, refer to those which promote the development of male sexual characteristics. It is because of steroids’ anabolism effects that some people tend to abuse steroids – anabolism, through steroids, can make an individual stronger, faster, and bigger.
Because of the diverse demographics of steroid abusers, the reasons why abuse of these banned compounds occurs are varied. Obviously, athletes abuse them to improve their athletic performance. Celebrities and models abuse steroids to enhance their physique. Teens abuse steroids for several reasons – peer pressure, an act of rebellion, or a way to emulate their idols as mentioned above.
Some abuse steroids for more compelling reasons such as muscle dysmorphia (a behavioral disorder) or sexual abuse. There have been studies that indicate one of the reasons why individuals, particularly women in this case, abuse steroids is because they have experienced sexual abuse. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse believe that getting bigger can help them protect themselves better. And to get big, some women resort to steroid abuse.
Effects of Steroid Abuse
Steroid abuse does not only cause physical symptoms, such as hair loss and acne breakouts, but physiological changes as well. It goes without saying that the physiological effects of steroid abuse induce far more serious damage to a person’s well-being.
Health professionals caution individuals against steroid abuse because it can result to long-term effects such as liver damage, sexual dysfunction, and cardiovascular disorders. Most data on these effects, however, are gleaned from case reports rather than epidemiological observations. Based on the case reports, this set of side effects seems to be low, but experts say this may be because those who abuse steroids do not recognize the symptoms or do not report them due to the illicit nature of the habit.