Anabolic steroid misuse
Anabolic steroids are prescription-only meds, that are sometimes taken without medical advice to increase muscle mass, improve athletic performance, as well as in many cases – improve sexual performance. Without a prescription, they are usually bought on the black market, and may cause serious side effects and possibly lead to addiction. Note that steroids are class C drugs that always need a doctor’s script, as they are artificial forms of testosterone, the male sex hormone.
It is legal to have anabolic steroids for personal use bought at a pharmacy with a doctor’s script. However, it is illegal to sell them or give them to friends to use. A heavy fine or even imprisonment is involved if you are caught doing this.
In professional sport, most organisations ban the use of anabolic steroids and regularly test competitors for the use of banned substances.
Why are people tempted to misuse steroids?
Anabolic steroids are known to increase muscle mass and decrease fat. Some athletes, including weightlifters and bodybuilders, take them regularly to improve performance and build up their bodies. Studies have now shown that more and more adolescent boys, including some females, who worry about perceived flaws in their appearance, erroneously believe that taking steroids will make them fit and healthy. This is very far from the truth – taking anabolic steroids is a dangerous drug habit that may lead to addiction.
Some side effects of steroid use:
- Reduced sperm count, shrunken testicles, infertility
- Erectile dysfunction, increased risk of prostate cancer, unusual breast development
- Severe acne, stomach pain
- Facial and body hair growth, decrease in breast size, increased sex drive
- A deeper voice, period problems
- Severe acne, head-hair loss
In addition, both men and women who misuse steroids may suffer psychological effects such as mood swings and aggressive behaviours.
More studies have revealed that many adolescents and young adults, who are dissatisfied with their physical appearance, have turned to using anabolic steroids to improve what they consider to be body flaws. In spite of being aware of the side effects which can accompany the steroids, they firmly believe that their appearances will be greatly improved. The sad thing is that these flaws are more often than not unnoticeable by others.
This condition is known as body dysmorphic disorder – BDD. It is classified as a mental health disorder, where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in his or her appearance. You might look in the mirror and see someone with string bean arms and legs, and a flat unattractive chest. You know that eating will not build you up, so you opt for anabolic steroids to give you the look that you want
BDD is under the umbrella of anxiety disorders, and may only get worse without help. If your symptoms are relatively mild, and you are truly concerned about the way steroids may affect your future life, visit the doctor to discuss treatment. You may be treated by the GP, or he will probably refer you to a mental health expert for further assessment and therapy.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is very treatable, and a competent therapist will help you to create a new mindset, which reduces the panic in your mind about your appearance. Perceived flaws can be eliminated, and give you the confidence to accept yourself just as you are.
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