Steroids

In 2014, 11% of teens in grades 9-12 admitted to having used steroids at least once in their lifetime, up from 5% in 2012.

OTHER NAMES

Anabolic-androgenic Steroids, Rhoids; Juice; Arnold; Gym Candy; Pumpers; Stackers; Weight Trainers

HOW USED

  • Orally
  • Injected (intramuscularly)
  • Rubbed on the skin in the form of gels or creams

CATEGORY

Steroid

GENERAL INFORMATION

Anabolic-androgenic steroids are powerful synthetic derivatives of the natural male anabolic hormone, testosterone. Both anabolic and androgenic have origins from the Greek: anabolic meaning "to build" and androgenic meaning "masculinizing." Steroids refer to the class of drugs. There are over 100 types of steroids, available legally only by prescription. Medical uses include treatment of conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty, some types of impotence, and body wasting which occurs with patients who have AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, asthma, arthritis, breast cancer, and chemotherapy.

Athletes and others abuse anabolic steroids believing the drug(s) will enhance performance, improve their physical appearance, and/or increase their strength. They are taken on a weekly or monthly schedule called "cycling" – which involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period of time, and starting again; "stacking" – which involves taking a combination of several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing negative effects; or "pyramiding" which is a process where users slowly increase the number of drugs used at one time and/or the dose and frequency of one or more steroids, reaching a peak amount at mid-cycle and gradually tapering the dose toward the end of the cycle.Regardless of how they're used, taken illegally, steroid abusers are vulnerable to more than 70 physical and psychological side effects, many of which are irreversible. Males may actually experience a "feminization" effect with a decrease in normal male sexual function, reduced sperm count, impotence, development of breasts, shrinking of the testicles, difficulty or pain while urinating, baldness, and increased risk for prostate cancer. Females may experience a "masculinization" effect including facial hair growth, male pattern baldness, deepened voice, breast reduction, and changes in menstrual cycle. Adolescents using anabolic steroids without medical supervision risk halting their growth and maturing ability. Steroids will permanently close the growth centers in their bones, making them shorter than they should have been.

Both sexes can experience physical effects ranging from merely unsightly to life threatening. They are acne, bloated appearance, rapid weight gain, weakened tendons, jaundice, elevated cholesterol levels, clotting disorders, liver damage, and/or premature heart attacks or strokes. Steroids can also cause severe mood swings, ranging from bouts of depression to extreme irritability, feelings of invincibility, and outright aggression. Research has also shown that abusers suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

Anabolic steroids are associated with such a wide range of adverse side effects, both short and long-term, that their use was officially outlawed at the 1973 Olympic Games and banned by all major league sports teams. In 1991, the United States Congress placed anabolic steroids into a Schedule III of the Controlled Substance Act, which means that the manufacture, distribution, and possession of the drugs for use carry tough legal penalties under federal law. Several states have enacted even stringent controls on these drugs.

IMMEDIATE SYMPTOMS

  • Increased bulk
  • Masculine traits in women
  • Feminine traits in men
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Mood swings

LONG-TERM RISKS/POSSIBLE DAMAGE

  • Premature termination of growth in adolescents
  • Liver cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Elevated cholesterol

INDICATIONS OF USE

  • Needles
  • Needle tracks
  • Increased time in the gym or working out
  • Extreme irritability

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.