Abuse of anabolic steroids in sport isn’t infrequent. Anabolics are used almost everywhere. There is data proving that in the Olympic disciplines only figure skating on ice and female field hockey are free from AAS. The greatest prevalence of this phenomenon is in bodybuilding (in other sports, facts of anabolic steroid use are carefully hidden).
According to the statistics (Sagoe D, Molde H, Andreassen CS, 2014), the global lifetime prevalence rate of AAS use was 6.4% in males and 6%% in females. The frequency of “juice” abuse was 18.8% among young competitive bodybuilders in Iranian city Kerman (Gholamreza Sepehri, Majid Mousavi Fard, 2009). So, this is a serious widespread problem.
Anabolic Steroid Abuse in Bodybuilding
The most common anabolic steroids in bodybuilding are testosterone, Dianabol (with methandrostenolone as an active agent), Winstrol (with Stanozolol as an active agent), Deca Durabolin (with Nandrolone as an active agent), and Trenbolone, among a few other meds. Steroids contribute to the rapid bulking and the increase of muscle strength. However, these effects are achieved only with constant and aptly organized workouts. Steroids feature neither a direct psychoactive effect nor direct damage to the brain cells and central nervous system. However, they can cause some psychological dependence with long-lasting intake.
Causes of Steroid Abuse by Bodybuilders
Steroids are usually ingested to improve the results in amateur and professional sports activities. Many people involved in bodybuilding also take them. These are most often young, impatient people who want to build muscles as quickly as possible, with a minimum physical load and for a short period. The incentives to take the drug are the following: peers’ example, the inherent impatience of the age, and desire to quickly make the body athletic and attractive. The “philosophy” of pro bodybuilders is different: they take doping as an intrinsic component for maintaining good effect obtained as a result of workouts. Adopting this approach by young people with an unstable psyche can lead to a sharp shift in their worldview system where the significance of pharmaceuticals for gaining athletic physique may be exaggerated.
It is interesting: no one is immune to the popularity of AAS. In 2006, McAllister MS and Collins GB at Cleveland Clinic Foundation revealed three cases of physicians who required anabolic abuse treatment.
Criteria & Symptoms of Anabolic Steroid Abuse
Scientists Geraldine C. Lin and Lynda Erinoff from Division of Preclinical Research (National Institute on Drug Abuse) identify the following criteria for drug abuse. This is self-administration when the medication is self-administered in supraphysiologic doses for the sake of reinforcing abilities and gaining the feeling of well-being. Tolerance to all abused medications usually develops, and a larger dose is needed to provide the desired effect. A withdrawal syndrome resulting from abrupt cancellation of the drug is typically observed. However, in the case of anabolic steroids, psychical dependence, not physical, usually develops.
This condition has the following symptoms and signs:
- a person takes them without a medical prescription
- pugnaciousness and frequent mood swings
- accelerated rates of muscle growth, which cannot be associated with the natural growing processes(most likely, you’ve seen pictures of ginormous bodybuilders on the Internet)
- skin color changes (red spots [petechiae], darkening, discoloration)
- traces of injections not prescribed by the doctor
In addition, steroid abuse symptoms include acne. Anyway, clinicians should have great astuteness to reveal the problem.
Health consequences of steroid abuse
Adolescents abusing “juice” experience growth process disturbance: from slowing down to a complete cessation. Acne often develops on the skin, hair on the head becomes sparse, bald spots appear, and other side effects become visible.
Male persons who have been using these medications for a long time may encounter problems with conceiving a child, resulting from the impairment of spermatozoa’s structure and their functional activity. Testicular size decreases because of the oppressive effect on their tissue. Gynecomastia (of breast glands growth) frequently develops.
Female persons, on the contrary, experience the masculinization process (formation of male traits). Their voice coarsens, hair grows on the body and the face, the clit increases.
Anabolic steroid overuse can lead to the deterioration of liver function. This condition is manifested by the development of liver disorder: toxic hepatitis (liver swelling), cirrhosis, etc.
Treatment of Steroid Abuse: Methods and Approaches
Treatment of bodybuilding steroid abuse may include consulting a psychotherapist. Taking into account the danger of depression development, doctors adjust the plan aimed at anabolic steroids withholding to each patient individually. Both immediate and gradual cessation of drug use is possible. Drugs are effectively stopped against the background of supportive psychotherapy. Additional medicines are not typically required. If necessary, antidepressants and sedatives may be prescribed.
The withdrawal syndrome related to the abuse has not been adequately studied. Polish scientists Medraś M and Tworowska U. (Pol Merkur Lekarski, 2001) found that discontinuing the use of the drugs is typically accompanied by mood swings, depression, fatigue, headache, anorexia, and thoughts about committing suicide (suicidal depression). There are two stages of withdrawal syndrome. The duration of the first one is about seven days. There may be fever, joint pain (arthralgia), a runny nose and other attributes resembling cold. The second stage can last about six months. It is characterized by a sleep disorder, a decrease or lack of appetite, rapid and/or chronic fatigue.
By inference, not everyone develops a dependence on anabolic steroids. This applies primarily to folks with weak psyche and the need to increase self-esteem. Without the prescription of a doctor, it is generally not recommended to use these drugs. But if you are already taking them, do it safely and carefully, without misapplying.