Steroids Linked to Myriad of Health Problems

Steroids Linked to Myriad of Health Problems

When most people think of illegal steroids, images of oversized body-builders come to mind – less often than the images of skeletal problems and other noticeably negative changes the drugs can cause. Although they can be prescribed for medical reasons, the unauthorized use of steroids is illegal due to the permanent harm they can bring to the users.

Several types of steroids can be misused and become harmful. Anabolic means the drug has potential to enhance muscle. The phrase androgenic steroid implies that the drugs can aid in the enhancement of male sexual traits. In another category of steroids are estrogen, progesterone and cortisol, which do not build muscular bulk and do not carry the same health risks.

Street names include “juice” or sometimes “roids.” While the phrase “anabolic” is used most frequently, the scientific name for street steroids is anabolic-androgenic. Users take steroid pills or inject them into muscles, often at levels tremendously higher than dosages that a doctor would prescribe for medical treatments.

Recent data suggests that steroid use is most prevalent among athletes and seems to show relatively low numbers of usage among teenagers, a connection that may be linked to greater efforts to educate teens and parents on their dangers. In 2009, a National Institute for Drug Abuse Study said that a low percentage – about 1.3 percent – of teens ages eighth grade through sophomores, and a little over two percent of high school seniors – had ever used steroids.

For teens that do experiment with steroids, puberty can come on too fast and too early and growth can be permanently stunted. Other problems associated with steroids include jaundice, shaking, liver or kidney damage and acne. In males, the testicles can be reduced in size, and infertility can occur, as well as loss of hair and a higher chance of acquiring cancer of the prostate. For women, steroids can cause the onset of facial hair growth, baldness or thinning hair, a stop in menstruation or a lowered voice.

Steroids are also known to negatively affect the limbic system, or the parts of the brain that control emotions and behaviors. Therefore, extreme mood changes can occur, such as aggression and swings in behavior that can be described as frenzied. High levels of paranoia, poor judgment, delusional behaviors and heighted jealousy can also result, often in connection with a feeling of being indestructible.

Sometimes steroid use is linked to fatalities. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can eventually cause arthrosclerosis, or fat collections in the arteries that prohibit proper blood circulation. When blood movement to the heart is disrupted, a heart attack can happen; if flow is interrupted to the brain, a stroke may occur.

When teens or adults become dependent on steroids, they may show serious physical ramifications and neglect friends and family. Like other drug addictions, steroid users can spend their financial resources on the substance and will show symptoms of withdrawal if they try to stop. Depression may be especially severe during steroid withdrawal.

In school settings, parents and coaches are encouraged to continue educating athletes about the dangers of steroids and to recognize symptoms of usage. A focus on proper weight lifting and healthy eating can be emphasized instead to help athletes excel naturally.

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