What are the Health Consequences of Anabolic Steroid Use?

Anabolic steroids are drugs or hormonal substances similar in composition to testosterone. They are used as a means of promoting muscle growth and increased athletic performance. Injection is the usual route of administration of anabolic steroids, either intravenously or intramuscularly, but there are also pills for oral administration of the drug. Steroids my increase muscle mass, but the potential for serious health consequences risks far outweigh the physical side effects.
Steroids carry a variety of possible adverse physical and psychological effects. Steroid abuse has increased overtime, with about 2 percent of high school students reporting to have used steroids within the past year. Athletes may use steroids to increase their athletic performance and gain an advantage over their competitors, and non-athletes may use steroids as means of altering their physical appearance, “usually based on distorted perceptions that he or she is obese, underweight, too weak, or other personal views,” according to the University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR). In men, steroid abuse can cause a litany of physical consequences. In men, these include: shrinking testicles; decreased sperm count; baldness; development of breasts; and increased risk for prostate cancer. In women, side effects include: growth of facial hair or excess body hair; male-pattern baldness; changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle; enlarge clitoris; and deepened voice. Teens who abuse steroids may experience stunted growth and height. Short term consequences of steroid abuse may include acne, fluid retention, increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, insomnia, headaches, and reduces sexual functioning. Overtime, a user may experience greater health consequences as a result of steroid abuse, including: heart attacks, blood clotting disorder, cardiovascular and liver damage, and strokes. If a user is injecting the drug, they are at risk of developing bacterial infection, abscesses, cellulitis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Psychological symptoms may also develop. According to CESAR, “Steroids have been reported to increase a person’s aggressiveness or lead them to become more violent. This is sometimes called a “roid rage,” defined as a manic rage where the user displays episodes of outright aggression and/or violent feelings and actions. Though scientific evidence is hard to find in support of roid rages, there are a large number of individual accounts of users who describe their own uncharacteristic aggressive behavior while under the influence of anabolic steroids.” Addiction is possible, and withdrawal symptoms from steroids may cause depression, mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, and insomnia.

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