Tox Tuesday: Anabolic Steroids

To gain a competitive edge, to bulk up quickly, to enhance your performance — to nearly instantly get the results you want, use anabolic steroids. But they’re not without their risks.

Anabolic steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones, typically used to treat hormone problems and muscle loss, but are increasingly being used by athletes, bodybuilders and the general public for performance enhancement. These types of steroids are illegal.

And the number of people using them is on the rise. A report from BBC Newsbeat indicated that in 2013, steroid usage had increased an incredible 645% versus usage in 2010.

CRI, a social care and health charity in England catering to thousands of individuals, runs needle exchanges in England and tested those for their results. Because of the rise in usage, the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) in England is changing its needle exchange guidelines to visit gyms where users are, stay open longer and give advice on training and nutrition. Needle and syringe exchange problems were set up in the 1980s to stop the spread of communicable diseases.

Some users have found that they have developed breasts (or gynecomastia), a “big gut” (or distended stomach), high blood pressure, heart problems, reproductive issues and liver and kidney damage.

Other users face much more serious consequences of the drug: death. A renowned Austrian professional body builder, known for his low fat levels, used anabolic steroids amongst various other drugs in order to achieve his physique. He abused drugs for much of his career and died at the age of 31.

Steroid abuse is not confined just to the male population. Women who abuse the drug can also see equally drastic results, although not perhaps the ones they had anticipated. One such user now has hair across her back, chest and upper lip, as well as acne and swollen genitals that have begun to mimic a male sex organ.

Anabolic steroids — which can be taken as a pill, injection or topical treatment —can have two effects on the body: building muscle and developing of facial hair and deeper voice. To some, it may be worth taking the drugs, but to others, the risk is just too great.

Dave Crosland, a 6’ 2” man weighing at 357 pounds (25 stone, 7 pounds), knows that despite arguably having the “biggest arm muscles in England,” his drug usage has given him a long list of problems.

“I would never and I could never recommend anyone to use,” Crosland said in a 2014 BBC Newsbeat article. “The cold harsh truth of it is, yes, they do work. But yes, there are side effects.”

With so many side effects stacked up against the user, many may question why usage of the drug is on the rise. David Rourk, a worker at a needle exchange in England, believes that the growing usage is partially due to pressure to look a certain way.

Crosland, who is open about his drug usage, tries to veer away younger users from starting the drugs. “The side effects are all quite gruesome,” he said. “Is it really worth it?”

Comments are closed.