Issue on performance enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids comes under consideration worldwide at each Olympic Games. But it’s not just Olympic athletes that use these drugs. Everyone from high school and college athletes, to professional and elite amateur athletes use steroids to gain a competitive advantage. Fitness buffs and bodybuilders take these drugs to improve their physical appearance, and people in occupations requiring great physical strength (e.g. body guards, night club bouncers, construction workers) are also known to use the drugs on a regular basis. Perhaps the most alarming aspect to steroids concerns their usage by teens. Once viewed as “just” a problem among professional and top-rank amateur athletes, numerous studies now suggest that steroid abuse has increased dramatically among teenagers.
The Feds move in!
It was this concern over the growing abuse by teenagers, combined with the potential for long-term side effects that led Congress in 1991 to reclassify anabolic steroids as Schedule III drugs. Steroids now fall under the same category of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as heroin, cocaine, and hashish.
Where are they found?
The vast majority of illegal steroid drugs are sold at gyms and through mail operations. Most steroids are smuggled into the United States from other countries – usually Mexico and Europe. This market includes various types of steroids intended for both human and veterinary use. As expected though the blackmarket is flooded with bogus and counterfeit products.
Even though most steroids have been banned and legitimate sources not manufactured any more, there are a couple of anabolic steroids that have been approved for medical and veterinary use. The primary medical use of these drugs in humans is for the replacement of low levels of testosterone resulting from reduced or non-functioning testes. These drugs are also used in the treatment of anemia, AIDS, wasting diseases, erectile dysfunction, and osteoporosis. The primary uses in veterinary medicine are to promote feed efficiency, increase lean weight gain, and to improve hair coat appearance. They are also used in veterinary practice to treat anemia and counteract tissue breakdown during illness and trauma.
Why and how bodybuilders use steroids
Despite what anti-steroid groups say, when combined with intense strength training and a high protein diet, steroids promote rapid and substantial increases in muscle size and strength. They also greatly decrease recovery time between workouts.
The two primary methods for taking steroids are orally or by intramuscular injection (i.e. injectables). To reduce the risk of side effects and cut down on developing tolerance, bodybuilders follow cycles. A cycle is a period of drug usage, usually 8 to 12 weeks, followed by a period of abstinence or reduction in use. Users also tend to take more than one steroid at a time in groups called stacks. Even though the benefits of these practices have not been medically proven, most bodybuilders feel that cycling and stacking improve the efficiency of the drugs and reduce the risk of side effects.
And now for the bad – side effects!
Even the most die-hard of steroid users will admit that the long-term adverse health effects of these drugs are a gray area. There is, however, increasing concerns for possible serious health problems associated with the abuse of anabolic steroids, including cardiovascular damage, hormonal imbalances, and liver toxicity. It’s also known that stacking multiple drugs over extended periods of time increases the risk of side effects. For many bodybuilders an “off cycle” simply means using fewer steroids not a total elimination.
Because of the risk of side effects and the potential to fall victim to steroid laws, many bodybuilders have turned to some of the outstanding legal steroid alternatives now available. When mixed with healthy eating and intelligent training, these pharmaceutical compounds will assure you of making the greatest amount of advancement in the shortest time possible.