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Why Do People Abuse Steroids?

Nov 14, 2007
Abuse of anabolic steroids typically starts in adolescence and is driven by the desire to improve performance and physical appearance. This is unlike abuse of other illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana that are taken for the euphoric feelings that accompany them.

Anabolic steroids are mainly taken by professional bodybuilders in order to increase muscle mass and size and by other professional athletes who wish to enhance their athletic performance and reduce body fat. These physical and performance enhancing effects of steroid boost strength and confidence, leading abusers to ignore the potential long-term and often fatal damage that these substances can cause.

Teenagers typically start taking anabolic steroids in an attempt to emulate professional athletes whom they idolize. Persistent reports of professional athletes and the abuse of anabolic steroids inadvertently endorses its use and sends out a damaging message to the youth that bigger and faster is better and you do what it takes to become the best.

Abuse of anabolic steroids is also widespread among people who suffer from muscle dysmorphia, a behavioral syndrome that causes them to have a distorted image of their body. Typically, men with this condition think they look too weak and small and take steroids to increase the size of their muscles. Women who suffer from this condition mistakenly think they look flabby and fat and resort to taking steroids in an attempt to lose body fat.

Adverse effects of anabolic steroid abuse

While short term use of anabolic steroid has performance enhancing effects, inappropriate and long term use can cause a host of damaging effects, many of which are long lasting and irreversible. Some of the negative health consequences of anabolic steroid abuse include early heart attacks, kidney failure, strokes, serious physiatrist problems and liver tumors.

Another dangerous consequence of steroid abuse arises from the fact that steroids are typically injected into the body, increasing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B and C when needles are shared or non-sterile needles are used.

Effective treatment for anabolic steroid abuse

Effective treatment for abuse of anabolic steroid is largely based on providing supportive therapy and educating patients on the adverse effects of steroid abuse. Steroid abusers undergoing treatment are also educated on the severe withdrawal symptoms that can be expected and are routinely evaluated for suicidal thoughts. If symptoms are prolonged or severe, medications and sometimes hospitalization is needed.

Medications in steroid treatment largely deal with restoring the hormonal system that has been severely disrupted by steroid abuse and with treating specific withdrawal symptoms. Analgesics are given for relief from joint and muscle pain and headaches, and antidepressants may be prescribed to treat long-term and severe depression.
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