Competitive sports have always been the motivation for the use of steroids. In today’s image conscious society, it is also not unusual for both male and females to explore any means, even potentially dangerous or illicit ones, to enhance their appearance. This is even more tempting when it comes to having an advantage in professional sports. In most steroid abuse stories, these are the two primary reasons people give for using or abusing this substance.
Steroids are known as performance enhancing drugs. They have also been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a controlled substance in the same category as cocaine and heroin with equal potential to be habit forming. Once associated only with professional athletes, body builders and fitness buffs, the use of steroids has become a problem for many teenagers and young adults.
According to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is estimated that at least half a million students in the 8th and 10th grades are frequently exposed to using steroids. Unfortunately, many parents may not be aware that their teenagers are using this substance.
As a father, Elliot compared finding out that his daughter was on drugs to “being in hell in the twilight zone” as he said in his drug abuse story. Fortunately, for Elliot and his family, his daughter was able to turn her life around. A major concern about steroid use by high schoolers is that most are unaware of the potential for addiction or of the harmful side effects.
Beyond the possibility of dependence or addiction, steroid abuse has also been attributed to the development of serious medical conditions and even death. In a Harvard related study, 30% of male users who admitted to using steroids also reported that they were addicted. Although women were not a part of this test group, they are just as susceptible to using steroid as their male counterparts.
The NIDA describes steroids (anabolic-androgenic steroids) as a synthetic version of testosterone. In clinical settings, these steroids are primarily used to treat hormonal issues or patients with diseases like aids and cancer that cause severe muscle loss. The long-term adverse physical reactions to anabolic steroid abuse have not been adequately studied to determine the full spectrum of effects. What is known for sure however, is that steroid users are at a significant risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Gender has also been shown to impact the way the physical and psychological dangers of steroid use manifest. For instance, many of the effects that may be irreversible in women. Some of the effects of steroids specific to women may include increased facial hair, breast reduction, menstrual irregularities, enlarged clitoris and increased muscle mass. Men, on the other hand, may experiences baldness, enlarged breasts, impaired testicle function and shrinkage as well as painful erections. Both genders may experience facial acne, yellowing of the skin, greater fluid retention, mood swings, increased hostility and impact to good and bad cholesterol levels among others.
Because of the subculture in which steroid abuse typically occurs, treatment of this condition is a highly customized and specialized process. Still there are various treatment options available. Also the duration of treatment will be dependent on the effects of the drug on the user and the extent of the abuse or addiction. The treatment process may involve the use of medications to assist the detox process as well as supportive therapy. In severe cases, medication may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms and mitigate suicide threats. However, physicians that have worked extensively with steroid addicts have found detoxification, behavioral therapy as well as relapse prevention education and training to be highly effective. In most cases, this treatment model is sufficient to enable and support long term sobriety.
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