Anabolic steroids or anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are synthetic forms of the male sex hormone testosterone. They mimic the effects of the male steroids testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. They increase protein synthesis within cells, which results in the buildup of cellular tissue (especially in muscles). Taking doses 10 to 100 times the amount prescribed by doctors for various illnesses promotes larger muscles when the person also exercises. Trainers may have been the first to acquire anabolic steroids for weight lifters, bodybuilders, and other athletes, such as professional football players. These are often termed as ergogenic use of anabolic steroids. Their use is referred to as doping and banned by all major sporting bodies. There is often a black market in countries where these drugs are classified as controlled substances.
Routes of administration (ROA):
AAS are commonly administered or taken in 3 different forms:
1. Oral pills (Enteral Route): They are convenient to use and are rapidly absorbed. They may be inefficient because only a part of drug is absorbed and undergo first pass metabolism.
2. Injectable steroids (Parenteral route): More oftenly they are intramuscular to avoid sudden changes in the amount of the drug in the bloodstream. It is used most commonly for non-medical purposes.
3. Skin patches (Transdermal patches): When placed on skin, AAS reaches into the bloodstream through the skin.
1. Men often experience decreased sperm counts and decreased sexual desire due to atrophy of the testicles. Some develop an enlarged prostate gland or grow breasts.
2. Acne is fairly common among anabolic steroid users, mostly due to stimulation of the sebaceous glands by increased testosterone levels.
3. Women can develop male sexual characteristics. They grow hair on their chests and faces, and lose hair from their heads.
4. Many women experience abnormal enlargement of the clitoris. Some cease ovulating or menstruating, sometimes permanently.
5. Some researchers predict that two or three months of high dosage use of anabolic steroids as a teen can cause death by age 30 or 40.
6. Steroids have even been linked to heart disease in both sexes. The cause alterations in the structure of the heart resulting in hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death. There is an evidence of a young California weight lifter who had a fatal heart attack after using steroids, and the postmortem showed a lack of electrolytes, salts that help regulate the heart.
7. Steroids are oftenly implicated in the deaths of young athletes from liver cancer and one type of kidney tumor.
8. Steroids can cause the body to retain ?uid, which results in increased blood pressure. Such users may try to get rid of steroid bloat by taking large doses of diuretics.
9. The steroids may prematurely stop the lengthening of bones (premature epiphyseal fusion through increased levels of estrogen metabolites), resulting in stunted growth.
10. Steroid abuse has psychological effects like depression, hostility, aggression, and eating disorders. These drugs make a person feel invincible. Even psychosis and suicide have been associated with steroid abuse.