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Why Is Steroid Use Considered Dangerous?

Why Is Steroid Use Considered Dangerous?
Steroid Use

While anabolic steroids, often referred to as performance enhancing drugs, are sometimes used by professional and even high school level athletes who want to get a leg up on the competition, these types of drugs have serious health risks. Though anabolic steroids are sometimes prescribed to treat legitimate health conditions, the doses when used illicitly can be from 10 to 100 times greater than prescription dosage. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data on steroid use is spotty, but is estimated to be prevalent among 1 to 6 percent of athletes at all levels, from high school to professional. Read on to learn more about the dangers of steroid use.

How Do Steroids Work?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of hormones that the body produces naturally. These may include testosterone, androstenedione, gonadotropin (human growth hormone), or erythropoietin. Steroids not only make muscles larger by helping the body produce more protein than it needs, but can help athletes rebound from a difficult workout more quickly, allowing them to train harder and longer.

Why is Steroid Use Dangerous?

Using hormonal steroids disrupts your body’s natural production of hormones, which causes changes both reversible and irreversible to primary and secondary sex characteristics. In addition to the physical effects, these hormonal changes also cause emotional and behavioral side effects, such as aggression. Because steroids naturally raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, they can also cause heart disease and stroke. And if steroids are injected, they also carry the same risk as injecting other street drugs, including abcesses, infection, and contraction of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.

What Are the Side Effects of Steroid Use?

For men, using anabolic steroids can lead to side effects that include development of breasts, atrophied testicles, impotence, and infertility. For women, side effects can include:

  • an enlarged clitoris
  • increased body hair growth
  • deepened voice
  • disrupted menstrual cycle
  • infertility

Both genders may experience:

  • hair loss
  • severe acne
  • liver damage
  • increased cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiac problems
  • aggressive behavior
  • depression
  • addiction

While many of these side effects go away when use of the drug is discontinued, some, such as hair loss and breast growth in men, are permanent. Many steroid users experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using the drug.

Education Programs

Education programs about steroids at an early age are often effective at preventing future abuse of these types of drugs. If your child plays sports, it’s critical to have this conversation early and often. If you or a family member are experiencing dependence on anabolic steroids, talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend or refer you to an inpatient treatment facility that can help you get and stay clean.

5 Comments

  • Angie

    I agree that parents should talk to their children often about this issue. I also agree that there should be extensive education programs available for children playing sports. Steroids can really affect your growth. It can also effect your emotions. I have seen people go into “roid rage” and it is not a pleasant thing to watch and to experience. I have also seen how steroid use in woman makes them take on male characteristics and how men lose a lot of their hair. It’s important to know what can happen to you if you take steroids. It is also important to know that you can get help if you need it so you can get clean and stay away from steroids in the future.

  • Walter

    This article is very true. I had many friends that I grew up with that used roids to get up above the other competition. I could never bring myself to inject a hormone into my body, but I was offered it plenty of times. I also watched a member of my family use it for football, and while the results were indeed staggering, he was not the most fun person to be around, seeing as how he would almost hit me when I beat him at a video game. Needless to say, there is a lot of misinformation regarding steroids and also there is a lot of people that do not think that they are still used. I am sure that you could go through every school from high school to college and find people that are using them. I think that while most people see cocaine or heroin as deadly addictions, most people who used anabolic steroids do not see that this is a type of addiction that will lead to your life being ruined. I also can think of numerous professional athletes that have had their lives damaged from steroids.

    I liked this article and think more people need to read it, especially if you have children or people that you know that are in the sports area.

  • Amanda

    I grew up playing sports and being into working out. There is some education in regards what to look for and the dos and don’ts. But I always hated the fact that you see so many professional athletes get busted for using steroids. It colors the business and the view on that it is okay to use drugs. But I have seen people that are addicted to steroids and it can be very difficult to get off of them. I know that BDR has great success and individual programs to assist someone who needs help handling a drug problem.

  • Diane C

    We hear about the use of these drugs every day on the news. Men and women who are being paid millions of dollars to play sports get caught up in trying to do better and be stronger, etc and so resort to these drugs to keep them on top. They don’t realize that using them might give them a leg up for the short time but they end up with body problems for the rest of their life. It’s not worth it. I’m glad there are programs out there that are educating our youth on these drugs and that there are consequences in place should they be caught doing them.

  • Jonathan

    This was an enlightening article as I thought previously that most steroids are all the same. I was not aware that they could be up to 100 times stronger than the ones that are prescribed to you by a doctor which, from personal experience, actually does have a decent effect even at such a mild dosage. I can only imagine what effect that the ones athletes take have on the body.

    The side effects of steroids might seem mild to some people but when looking at it from the viewpoint of them not being able to be reversed, puts it into a whole new scheme of things. It is simply like any other drug, the short lived thrill of the drug with the long term effects. People just need to be made more aware of what the drug does to you on a long term basis and actually make them to look at it and make them realize that it is not worth it.

    I strongly agree to talk to your children, as soon as they begin a sport, about the dangerousness of taking steroids. As their teammates or even sometimes the coaches in some instances may try to push off some form of a steroid onto them so that they can win. But it is at the expense of yours or your child’s life and vitality, not theirs. So please do educate them and make them aware of the effects of steroids.

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