One bodybuilding author who wrote an article on the differences between the use and abuse of steroids was surprised to discover that 65% of his readers were teen boys aged between twelve and sixteen. As Wayne Mercer confesses, he was stuck with an overwhelming number of emails that he got from children, who wrote about their own use of steroids. This information shows not only the popularity of the sport, but it also illustrates the extent to which the taking of performance-enhancing drugs has reached in the United States. Obviously, few of these kids are aware of the adverse effects of steroid use in their bodybuilding efforts. And the adverse effects are numerous: health problems due to side effects, stunting of growth plates, serious changes in physical appearance, psychological dependency, and many other serious conditions. Besides, use of steroids can cause problems with the legal system.
First of all, use of steroids leads to many side-effects. Among the effects of the bodybuilding drugs use range from relatively mild to lethal. Specifically, the use of steroids may lead to severe acne, increase in bad cholesterol levels, hypertension, and enlarged prostate glands. Other adverse effects include serious problems with liver, tumors, risk of tendon rupture, heart problems, problems with kidneys and joints, impotence, increased risk of contracting an infectious disease such as hepatitis or HIV, and even infertility. An example illustrating how anabolic steroid use has led to infertility is the experience of an Olympia Weekend Show participant, a female bodybuilder Ashley Brown. She says that the use of steroids at the beginning of her bodybuilding path caused infertility. She was unable to conceive for a long time until finally cured after ten years of various treatments.
Next, use of steroids leads to stunting of growth plates, especially in adolescence. At this age, the growth plates are still not set, so foreign testosterone causes a halt in the overall process. This means that a person will retain the same height as he did at the time when he was taking the steroids. Besides, as the growth plates are stunted, steroid-users start feeling the bone pain. While some people manage to overcome the issue, others may not.
Further, the use of steroids causes serious changes in the physical appearance, most often undesirable and ugly. These include prominent breasts, impotence, baldness, and shrunken testicles in men, as well as increased body hair, deeper voice, baldness, and enlarged clitoris in women. Both men and women may develop acne as a result of steroids use, as well as develop fluid retention and muscle weakness.
Further, the use of steroids is likely to cause serious psychological problems. For adolescents, who are just in the process of their psychological (as well as physical formation), the decision to use hormones/steroids can lead to serious drug dependency. This happens as brain pathways and chemicals change as a result of long-term steroid use. In this case, the changes in the balance of opioid, serotonin, and dopamine are responsible for mood swings and changes in behavior. Some develop serious psychiatric disorders including depression, paranoid jealousy, delusions, and extreme irritability. Plus, individuals taking steroids often develop aggressive behaviors and experience manic-like anger or rage, which may even lead to violence. For example, a neighbor, Mr. Long, a long-term steroid user and bodybuilder, has had a divorce recently because his wife could not stand his aggressiveness and beating. Problems with sperm production and impotence lead to adverse effects in sexual and personal life, and, as a result, to serious psychological conditions. To illustrate, one young man, Alex, was unable to have sex for over a year because of impotence, which came as a result of just two e cycles of anabolic steroid use.
Also, the use of steroids by bodybuilders and other athletes may have even a greater variety of side-effects and may cause even more adverse conditions if better researched. For example, scientists claim that no data exists to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the use of anabolic steroids and development of cancers. Yet, this does not mean that the use of steroids does not cause cancer. It simply means that there have been no valid studies on this subjects, which could have shed light on the issue. For example, an ex-classmate says her elder brother developed a prostate cancer as a result of anabolic steroid use for the purposes of increasing the muscle mass in bodybuilding. Therefore, the danger of cancer as a side-effect of steroid use should not be dismissed either.
In addition, steroid use can become the cause of a bodybuilder’s problems with the U.S. legal system. In the United States, anabolic steroids are legally prescribed when there is a need to treat a condition stemming from deficiency of steroid hormones. However, without a doctor’s prescription, steroids cannot be bought. Illicit use of steroids can lead to a fine of $1,000 and a one year penalty in jail, for the first time. For the second time, the offense will be puished with a double penalty.
Overall, bodybuilders’ use of steroids to grow their muscles may lead to unexpected diverse effects, many of them lethal in essence. The effects are damages not only to an athlete’s body, but also to his psyche. Another kind of damage, a financial one, is the legal penalty in prison and a fine.