Steroids, also known as anabolic steroids, are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring testosterone, a male sex hormone responsible for facial hair, muscle and bone growth, and the development of reproductive tissues. Some of their common street names include “weight gainers,” “juice,” “roids,” and “arnolds.”
Initially developed to help with testosterone issues, to treat delayed puberty and impotence, steroids are nowadays abused to improve physical performance, enhance athletic performance and promote muscle growth.
Steroids are illegal to use without a prescription but steroids abuse has become so common that people consume it in various ways – orally, injecting it into the muscle, or using it in the form of a gel or a cream. The dose for non-medical use of steroids is usually 10 to 100 times higher than the medically prescribed doses.
Steroids abuse among athletes
In case of bodybuilders, steroids help speed up muscle growth. Steroids target the androgen receptor in muscle tissue and get inside to the cells, prompting them to start producing more of the protein that builds muscles.
Not all steroids are used for building muscles though. Athletes often take to steroids abuse to enhance their performance in sports and reduce muscle breakdown. During intensive training, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissues and makes people sore after workouts. Steroids work by stopping cortisol from binding to the receptors in our muscles, slowing down the natural breakdown process. This means athletes can recover far more quickly and improve their overall performance with steroid use. Irrespective of the reasons for which an individual abuses steroids, the effects are serious and sometimes, even fatal.