ADF - Drug Facts - Steroids
Steroids are drugs that help the growth and repair of muscle tissue. They are synthetic hormones that imitate male sex hormones, specifically testosterone. Steroids can increase lean muscle mass, strength and endurance, but only if used in conjunction with certain exercise and diet regimes 1.
They can also help people reduce fat and recover quicker from injury 2. Steroids are classed as performance and image enhancing drugs PIEDs. These substances are taken by people with the intention of improving their physical appearance or enhancing their sporting performance.
Steroids are injected directly into muscles. They travel through the bloodstream to muscle cells where they start a chemical reaction that helps build muscle strength. Steroids are typically injected over a six to 12 week period. This is followed by a break of the same length to prevent muscle cells shutting down in the long term. This is known as cycling. Different steroids are often combined in a process known as stacking. This is done to achieve effects such as increasing muscle mass, making it leaner and getting greater muscle definition known as cutting.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. People may use steroids in what they believe to be a healthy lifestyle context.
They may not see themselves as injecting drug users. However, there are risks associated with using steroids without a prescription or medical supervision, even as part of a fitness training program. In the worst case, long-term heavy steroid use can lead to heart attack, stroke and death 4 , especially among men aged in their early 30s who combine steroids with other stimulant drugs, such as speed and ecstasy. Steroids can also take a toll on personal relationships as they can cause mood swings, a higher sex drive and, in extreme cases, violent behaviour 7 , especially when combined with alcohol.
They can ruin sporting careers, with positive tests potentially resulting in fines, suspensions and bans from competitive sports. Pregnant women who use steroids risk passing on male traits to unborn daughters due to the increased male hormones in their bloodstream. The only way to avoid the risk of fetal damage is to stop using steroids at least 4 months before falling pregnant, as well as during pregnancy.
Injecting steroids can cause permanent nerve damage, which can lead to sciatica. Although steroids are not addictive, people can find themselves relying on them to build confidence and self-esteem.
Fear of losing muscle size or definition can lead to depression and the pressure to continue use. Steroids should only be injected with a prescription for a specific medical reason or under medical supervision.
Injecting more than the recommended dose does not create larger muscles — the muscle simply becomes saturated. Higher doses only raise the risks of more adverse side effects without providing any additional benefits. It is not necessary to inject directly into specific muscles as the steroids are transported to all muscle groups via the bloodstream.
There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of harm caused by long-term steroid use. It is illegal to manufacture, import, possess, use or supply steroids without a prescription or medical practitioner licence. The penalties for illegally administering steroids varies for every Australian state and territory.
It is also against the law to inject another person with steroids, or for them to be self-administered without a prescription.
Steroid use is banned in competitive sport. Testing positive for steroids can result in fines, suspensions or permanent bans. Preventing harm in Australia. How are they used? Steroids can be injected or taken as a tablet. Who uses steroids and why? Competitive athletes — who are motived by their desire to succeed. People concerned about their body image — recreational weight trainers and body builders and people working in the fashion and entertainment industries.
Body building professionals — people involved in body building as a competitive sport. People who need muscle strength to do their job — bodyguards, security personal, construction workers, police and members of the armed services.
Young men — who want to increase their athletic performance or who are striving to reach the same physical appearance that is often portrayed in the media. Steroids affect everyone differently. The following may be experienced: Water retention — leading to facial bloating Acne — leading to permanent scarring Irritability and mood swings More frequent colds Aggression and violence Increased sex drive Sleeping difficulties 10 Longer-term effects may include: Read more about withdrawal.
Health and safety Steroids should only be injected with a prescription for a specific medical reason or under medical supervision. Steroids and the law. Medical practitioners can only prescribe steroids for legitimate medical reasons. Effects of anabolic steroids on the muscle cells of strength-trained athletes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 31 11 , — Evans, N.
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