Anabolic steroids are lab-manufactured versions of testosterone, the hormone more dominant in males. Steroids help increase muscles mass, which is why they are sometimes prescribed to patients with muscle deterioration, such as HIV and cancer patients.
However, steroids are sometimes abused by professional athletes looking for shortcuts to increase their performance. As more adolescents meet Olympic athletic criteria and college sports scouts are seeking out their picks at youth sporting events, abuse of anabolic steroids is being seen even in growing boys and girls hoping for edge.
Unfortunately, the side effects of steroids taken for nonmedical reasons can have serious physical and mental effects, especially on a growing body.
The teenage years can be an aesthetically vulnerable and insecure time of life already. Add to that the appearance mutations of steroid abuse and it can be a teen crisis with respect to personal self-esteem and social acceptance.
Red Flags of Steroid Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, warning symptoms of steroids abuse include:
- Abnormally excessive development of breast tissue in males, called gynocomastia
- Dizziness, trembling
- Drastic appetite swings
- Energy level swings
- Hair loss in clumps
- Increased muscle size – sudden or gradual
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin – a sign of liver damage
- Joint pain; heightened proclivity to rupturing muscles and tendons
- Male pattern baldness in women and men
- Mood swings
- Nausea or vomiting
- Persistent bad breath
- Polarized sleep patterns
- Small red or purplish acne, with shoulder and back breakouts
- Skin abscesses and cysts
- Stretch marks on the inner joints
- Thickening of body hair on women
- Trouble urinating; discoloration or blood in urine
- Unusually greasy hair or oily skin
- Volleying fluid levels face and body bloating or night sweats
- Weight gain – rapid or progressive
Internal symptoms of steroids addiction include:
- A reversal of good and bad cholesterol levels
- Enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Hepatitis or HIV from needle use and sharing
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Enlargement of the clitoris
What may start as desperate attempt to secure a competitive advantage can morph into a legitimate steroid dependency, with severe consequences.
Steroid addiction is both physical and mental and so Sovereign Health believes treatment must also address physical rehabilitation as well as mental health therapy.
While steroids are illegal to possess without a legitimate, personal prescription, they can be bought on the black market. Steroids are used by:
- Direct injection into the muscles
- Oral consumption in pill form
- Topical application in gels and creams
Underlying mental disorder or previous sexual or physical trauma can lead to most cases of steroid abuse – a kind of subconscious compensation.
It’s clear the negatives outweigh the positives for nonmedical and unsupervised consumption. Someone would have to feel desperate to take such a great risk for aesthetic results.
A dual diagnosis of muscle dysmorphia is one example. Males and females with the body image disorder identify as small, fat or weak, regardless of how they really look.