Anabolic steroids are pharmaceutical chemicals resembling naturally occurring hormones produced by our body. These drugs were originally manufactured to legally and safely treat certain hormone imbalances, endocrine disorders, or muscle-wasting diseases like AIDS. However, anabolic steroids also found an illegal market among athletes seeking an edge in competition.
Testosterone, the sex hormones, are closely linked to anabolic steroids. It's a crucial hormone to sexual development and physical maturation. For instance, in men, testosterone is responsible for androgenic, or masculinizing, characteristics during puberty. It causes the development of sex organs, voice deepening, hair growth, and sperm production. It also has anabolic, or muscle building, effects during adolescence. Some people cannot produce enough of their own testosterone, so the medical community developed artificial anabolic steroids to treat these disorders.
In the 21st century, there has been increasing publicity surrounding the illegal abuse of anabolic steroids among student or professional athletes. This variety of drug abuse has been shown to be alarmingly common among high school students, college athletes, and even Olympic competitors. These athletes seek the anti-catabolic effects of the illicit drug to build muscle and prevent tissue break down. These steroids can make them faster, stronger, and perform better. Yet countless complications arise from this type of drug abuse.
Abuse of anabolic steroids range from negative side effects and harmful health risks to a greater chance of contracting diseases associated with needle injection, such as HIV. Those abusing performance inhancing drugs can inject them intramuscularly, ingest them in pill or liquid form, and even absorb them through topical creams. There are countless disadvantages to steroid abuse, including an increased risk of suffering a stroke, liver failure, or heart attack. In addition, there are various androgenic effects, which vary from unwanted fat redistribution, hair growth, or voice changes in women, and shrinkage of testicles or impotency in men. Many organizations are working to raise awareness and monitor the drug's distribution to reduce the incidence of abuse.