Steroids are drugs that mimic certain natural hormones in the body that regulate and control how the body works and develops. There are two main groups of natural steroids - anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. It is the anabolic steroids that tend to be misused, mainly because they are similar to the male hormone testosterone and they can improve endurance and performance and stimulate muscle growth.
Some people take the anabolic steroids to help build muscles or to try and look more ‘manly’. Other people take them to improve how they perform at sports, such as sprinting and cycling.
The key effects of anabolic steroids include:
Sports players and body building enthusiasts have claimed that anabolic steroids:
Taking anabolic steroids does involve risks. There’s the harms you can do to your own body and health. But also, because anabolic steroids can make you feel paranoid, aggressive and violent for no reason, it’s not that unusual for anabolic steroid users to lash out or attack family and friends.
Here’s what else steroids can do to you:
There are worries about the quality and safety of anabolic steroids that are sold on the black market, with falsified, substandard and counterfeit anabolic steroids not being uncommon. Some of these counterfeit anabolic steroids may not have the effect that the buyer wanted. Some have no active ingredient at all.
You can easily become psychologically dependent on anabolic steroid use (meaning you develop an increased tendency to keep taking the drug even in spite of possible harmful effects). Withdrawal symptoms have been reported soon after stopping, including headaches, lethargy and depression.
Many sporting organisations have banned the use of certain steroids. These organisations carry out tests for the banned steroids. If someone tests positive they can be disqualified from competing for certain periods of time, or even banned for life.
A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.