What are Steroids?
Anabolic steroids or “roids” are hormones that bind with androgen receptors in the cells of muscle tissue which then translate into skeletal muscular growth (anabolism) and androgenic (male sexual characteristic) effects hence the acronym AAS which stands for anabolic-androgen steroids. Many athletes take them to develop muscle mass and to get stronger.
Anabolic steroids mess with your RNA. They change how your DNA (the information detailing your genetic makeup) gets to be interpreted or translated by your RNA by way of androgen receptors which regulate gene expression and are responsible for the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics.
To put it simply, in the adult person, the drug physiologically mimics what a young male goes through at the time of puberty. To extend this definition to make a point of clear contrast, steroids given to a female bodybuilder would in effect put her through the same experience of a healthy young male going through puberty all with increased facial hair, overactive sebaceous glands with acne, increased skeletal muscularity, a larger larynx and vocal chords leading to a deeper voice and so on. If you chronically take steroids then your body is constantly going through a drug induced state of male puberty. There are always some of these androgen effects no matter what type of steroid is used.
How are steroids taken?
Steroids are usually administered 3 different ways: Orally, by absorption via the skin, and by injection. If orally, the drug may be put in contact with the mucous membrane underneath the tongue. In this way, it goes more or less into venous circulation instead of passing the long way through the digestive system. If absorbed by the skin, it is in the form of a patch or implant. If taken by injection, the dose is administered intramuscularly at the shoulder, glute or thigh. Injection is the main method used by athletes and bodybuilders and the drug can be detected for 3 or 4 months. If you take the drug orally then it may only be present from 1 to 4 weeks.
What are the good things that steroids do?
- Anabolic steroids accelerate protein synthesis, and block the effects of a stress hormone called cortisol. This maximizes muscle gain and minimizes muscle breakdown. It also aids in creatine phosphate synthesis. This is when, during muscular contraction, (ATP) adenosine triphosphate loses a phosphate molecule and becomes ADP (adenosine diphosphate). Steroids replace the phosphate molecule. Creatine phosphate synthesis enables athletes to train harder and for longer periods of time. Creatine supplements do the same thing but to a lesser extent which means that once you become a juicer with steroids it becomes unnecessary to supplement with creatine.
- Steroids also help the body to hang onto extra nitrogen which is achieved by eating larger than usual amounts of protein. The reason why this is important is because the body needs to be in positive nitrogen balance in order to build and maintain extra muscle.
- From a medical health point of view, people with chronic muscle wasting illnesses such as cancer or HIV may find steroids helpful in that with certain therapies, fat-free muscle mass and strength may be restored.
What are the bad effects of steroids?
- Muscles can grow so fast with the combination of steroids, heavy lifting, and maximally forced food intake that the connective tissues of tendons and ligaments may not be able to keep up. There are many cases of injury in which the muscles simply “cleave” away from bone and other tissue resulting in catastrophic injuries requiring sometimes months of rehabilitation.
- One big problem with steroids and this is true when taking in any kind of hormone, is that your body will begin to decrease the production of testosterone. In the case of anabolic steroids, the testicles will slow down their production of testosterone even up to the point of halting production altogether.
- Steroids have been known in some cases to cause a not insignificant loss of bone mass after only a few months of use.
- There may be some evidence to suggest that steroids lead to an enlarged heart in weight lifters and bodybuilders (to be fair, however, this condition has also been known to occur without using steroids).
- They can cause an enlarged prostate therefore complicating prostate cancer treatment (although this is easily remedied by discontinuing steroid use).
- There are other possible bad side effects such as men developing breasts, losing hair, heart attacks, high blood pressure, “roid rage,” and more.
What is their status? (Athletic community and world)
Steroids have a popular but shady reputation. The Olympics started full scale drug testing beginning in 1972. On February 27, 1991 steroids became classified by the United States federal government as a Schedule III controlled substance. That means they are seen the same way as opium, morphine, meth, marijuana, and so on. This is also the same year that steroids were banned in baseball. Although they are illegal in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, to name a few, they are not considered controlled substances everywhere. Many products sold on the internet come from Russia, Romania, Greece and the European Union. Other sources are Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, India and Pakistan. Users and illegal dealers in the United States often make steroid “runs” down to Mexico.
What is their future?
Steroids will continue to be banned where they are banned and allowed where they are allowed. Strength athletes will continue taking them in order to become world class and stay that way. Technology testing will always be a bit behind the use of masking agents used to hide steroids and this is where a lot of money is to be made. There will always be many of those who abuse them and a few users who have enough of a healthy respect to do their due diligence with research before they try them. Most athletes will never use them let alone try them.
Are there any other risks?
If you buy steroids on the street, they may be laced with agents or ingredients you haven’t bargained for or you may be getting the kind veterinarians use or they may not be steroids at all. This article does not advocate using them but before you try them, educate yourself first. Learn about dosages backwards and forwards and never ever share needles. Remember that even if you can take large doses of anabolic steroids, if you don’t also eat a lot of protein and good food you may not see a noticeable difference in size and strength. First just try eating more wholesome food. Stock up instead on good nutrition.
The effects of steroids are twofold: They trigger anabolic effects such as muscle growth and stimulation of red blood cell production. They force androgenic interpretation into male traits such as deepening of the voice, overactive sweat glands (causing acne), an increase in hair where perhaps you don’t want it and decrease where you want to keep it (the scalp). They are not a recreational drug. Before you use them, try eating more wholesome food for awhile. This may be all you need. There is truly nothing more anabolic than good wholesome food and a lot of protein.
Every drug has side effects. Steroids actually affect your genes and throw your hormonal system out of balance. If you are in a sport in which most of your colleagues are using anabolic steroids and you think you must take them in order to become world class then they will become a lifestyle and require self education and a great deal of personal responsibility.