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Anabolic Steroids

in Drug Types

Anabolic steroids are man made drugs similar to male sex hormones similar to male sex hormones. These steroids promote the growth of skeletal muscle and the development of male sexual characteristics.

Although anabolic steroids are available only by prescription in the United States, many steroid supplements are available over the counter and are marketed under several names.

Steroids and steroid supplements are often taken to increase performance in sports. Some people take them to develop muscles. Abusers of steroids take many times the recommended dosages in an effort to bulk up. Steroid abuse has been increasing in recent years, especially among middle-school-age young people.

Steroid use has been associated with chemical dependence and withdrawal syndrome.

Types:
Examples include dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione (called Andro).


Methods of Use:
Different steroids are often taken together, sometimes in combination with other drugs like stimulants or painkillers. This practice is called "stacking" and is supposed to result in greater muscle build-up.
In another practice, called "pyramiding," the user builds the dosage over several weeks and then tapers off in a second cycle. This technique is supposed to allow the body to adjust to the changed levels of hormones. None of these techniques has been substantiated by research.


The steroids themselves may be:

  • Swallowed in pill or tablet form
  • Injected
  • Rubbed as a cream on the skin

Effects on the Central Nervous System

Evidence suggests that anabolic steroids affect the functioning of the limbic system, which may explain characteristic increases in aggression and erratic bursts of emotion. Steroids also affect the hypothalamus, which regulates many basic body functions by regulating hormones.


Intoxication:
Although steroid intoxication has not been fully researched, evidence suggests that steroid use has rapid effects on mood and emotional functioning. These effects include anxiety, exhilaration, agitation, and depression. In extreme cases, psychotic reactions can occur.

Life Risks:
Taking anabolic steroids disrupts the normal system of hormone production. Along with the intended effects of greater muscle mass or increased physical performance, steroid abuse causes a number of unpleasant and dangerous side effects. 


Withdrawal:
Many Symptoms have been reported among users who discontinue steroids. These include mood swings, depression with suicidal behavior, and aggression with violent and assaultive behavior. Complicating the withdrawal picture, quitting steroids causes sometimes-dramatic reductions in size and strength. That loss of size and strength may contribute to the depression associated with steroid withdrawal.
Research on steroid withdrawal syndromes is still developing. Withdrawal symptoms vary, depending on the individual and the type of steroid used.


Warning Signs:
Performance athletes and bodybuilders often use anabolic steroids, but recent evidence suggests that steroid abuse among adolescents is on the rise. Although more males than females abuse steroids, steroid abuse is growing rapidly among young women.
Males and females who abuse anabolic steroids experience a number of health and behavioral consequences.


Males"

  • Atrophy of testicles
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Decreased sperm motility
  • Fluid retention
  • Prostrate enlargement
  • Development of breasts
  • Baldness
  • Psychotic episodes
     

Females

  • Increased body hair
  • Decreased breast size
  • Fluid retention
  • Acne
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Aggressiveness
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Psychotic episodes
     

Some psychological effects in both sexes include depression, aggressiveness, mania, and delusions. 

 

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