What Are Steroids?

Steroids are drugs that can treat some medical conditions when they are used correctly, on prescription from a doctor. However, these drugs can also be abused when they are taken as a quick way to build the muscle and of improving athletic performance. These drugs can also have dangerous side effects.

What Are Steroids?

Steroids are drugs that are designed to act like the body’s natural hormones, the ones that regulate and control how a human develops and functions. There are two types of steroids – anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.

Anabolic steroids are remarkably similar to the male growth hormone testosterone. Because these types of steroids can stimulate muscle growth and improve performance, they can also be misused.

People use anabolic steroids for various reasons. Some individuals are interested in building muscle. Others want to look more ‘manly’. Others seek improvement in their sporting performance, in events such as running and cycling.

Anabolic steroids can be obtained as tablets. They are also available as a liquid for injection.

What are the key effects of Steroids?

Some of the main effects of anabolic steroids can include:

  • Athletes may find that they can exercise harder and for longer
  • Can help faster recovery times when training hard.
  • Can help to quickly build up muscle.
  • Users may become irritable more easily. They may even become aggressive or violent.
  • Mood swings can be quite dramatic.
  • Unwanted changes in appearance can also be caused.

Because steroids are deemed to performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), their use has been banned in events such as the Olympics for many years.

What are the risks of taking steroids?

By taking steroids you can put your own body and health at risk. However, this is not the only danger. Because of the aggressive side-effects associated with the drug, you also risk hurting friends or family if the drug causes you to act in a violent manner towards them.

Steroids can also do this to you:

  • for young people, steroids may impede the correct development and growth or your body
  • for men, erectile dysfunction, breast growth and other fertility problems have all been associated to steroid use
  • for women, shrinking breasts, a deeper voice, menstrual problems and acne are just some of the dangers
  • All users are at risk of high blood pressure, liver failure and heart attack
  • Problems sleeping and problems controlling aggression
  • Feelings of paranoia

Can you become addicted to anabolic steroids?

Yes – quite easily. Psychological dependence can develop, leading users to continue taking the drug despite the known risks. Also, withdrawal symptoms can be quite pronounced, leaving a person feeling very lethargic and causing headaches and depression.

In addition to psychological dependence, there are also physical side effects associated with anabolic steroid use. These can include an increased risk of heart disease, liver damage, and kidney damage. In men, steroid use can result in reduced sperm count, shrinking of the testicles, and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Women may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, facial hair growth, and a deeper voice.

Moreover, anabolic steroid abuse has been linked to a range of behavioural issues, including aggression, mood swings, and irritability. This can lead to problems in personal and professional relationships, and may even result in legal trouble.

It’s important to note that not all athletes use steroids to gain an unfair advantage. Some may use them for legitimate medical purposes, such as to treat muscle-wasting diseases or hormone imbalances. However, the vast majority of steroid use is the result of athletes seeking a shortcut to success.

Is the use of anabolic steroids legal?

In the UK, anabolic steroids are classified as Class C drugs, meaning that they can only legally be obtained under a doctor’s prescription from a pharmacist. Steroids are often found for sale on the dark web, this has been particularly prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns in many countries saw and alarming increase of drug sales on the dark web.

Steroids that are for personal use can legally be possessed. However, importing or exporting the drugs by post or courier is illegal, as is owning the drugs with the intention to supply others, which runs the risk of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Possession or importing with intent to supply (which includes giving them to friends) is illegal and could lead to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Photo by Zoom Health

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated since.

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