Abusing Steroids: How Dangerous Can It Be?
The anabolic steroids that are used for medical purposes can be administered in several ways: intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, oral, subcutaneous implantation of pellets, or skin application of gels, creams or patches. However, these administration methods are also used by people who abuse anabolic steroids.
Administration strategies – There are several administration methods:
1. “Cycling” – cyclical administration
This method implies the alternation of the periods when anabolic steroids are used (“on cycle”) with periods in which they are not used at all or they are used in very small doses (“off cycle”). The usual cycle duration is around 6 to 12 weeks.
2. “Stacking” – concomitant
This term describes the concomitant administration of two or more anabolic steroids. For example, injections may be associated with oral administration, or short-term acting steroids with steroids that are active during a long period of time. This administration method is usually used by doctors.
3. “Stacking the Pyramid” – the simultaneous management pyramid
This term is used to describe a concomitant administration of several types of steroids, progressively increasing the doses and gradually adding other steroids in the early part of a cycle, followed by the gradual removal of steroids in the second part of the cycle.
It is believed that this system ensures the optimum effect and reduces the probability of anabolic steroids detection. The anabolic steroid dosage is usually abused depending on the effect the person wants to achieve. In the case of athletes, for example, the dosage can vary according to each sport.
Endurance athletes use smaller dosages, 1.5-2 times more for sprinters, while weightlifters and bodybuilders can take upto 10 to 100 times higher dosages.
Anabolic steroids act on the limbic system leading to increased aggression, and on the hypothalamus, which controls the metabolism.
Among the benefits of steroids, we can highlight:
– Improving the use of the ingested proteins;
– Promoting protein synthesis;
– Promoting fat burning;
– Increasing the haemoglobin levels and the red blood cell count;
– Favouring the calcium retention in the bones;
– Decreased excretion of sodium, potassium and calcium.
However, the long-term use of anabolic steroids can have severe consequences. The most severe consequences of the long-term use of anabolic steroids are those affecting the cardiovascular system:
– Left ventricular hypertrophy,
– Preventing diastolic filling,
– Increased risk of myocardial strokes and sudden death.
The chronic use of anabolic steroids can cause tumours:
– Liver tumours,
– Renal cell carcinoma,
– Testicular tumours,
– Prostate cancer.
The mortality rate is 4 to 6 times higher in chronic consumers of anabolic steroids than in non-consumers.
The possible clinical manifestations of the acute poisoning with anabolic steroids are:
– Depression, sometimes psychotic manifestations
Chronic users of anabolic steroids may display:
– Appearance: muscular hypertrophy, hirsutism, and voice deepening in women;
– Skin: acne, baldness, and injection marks in the buttocks, thighs or the deltoid muscle;
– Breasts: Breast atrophy, gynecomastia in both men and women;
– Genitourinary: testicular atrophy in men and enlarged clitoris in women.
A significant percentage of the people who abuse anabolic steroids become addicted to them, despite physical problems. The prolonged use of anabolic steroids produces physical and psychological dependence. With each new cycle, steroids are administered in higher doses and the physical strain is increased.
Some studies have shown a euphoric effect generated by anabolic steroids, which is, however, lower than the one produced by cocaine or other drugs. The physical dependence occurs once the body adjusts to the synthetic medicine and the normal production of testosterone is interrupted. When the administration of steroids is interrupted, the following symptoms appear:
– Severe depression
– Erectile dysfunctions and low self-esteem,
– Psychotic reactions may also occur.
To mitigate these sufferings, steroid users recur to mood suppressants, or decide to take more steroids. Studies on animals (hamsters) have shown that individuals with low levels of endogenous testosterone (women, adolescents, old people) are less likely to abuse anabolic steroids.
Individuals who perform intense physical activities (which favour the secretion of endogenous testosterone) are more likely to develop androgens dependence.
The abstinence syndrome shows the following symptoms:
– Mood changes,
– Nervousness and violent behaviour
– Agitation and depression,
– Loss of appetite and desire to keep using steroids.
However, the most dangerous symptom is depression, because it may sometimes lead to self harm or even suicide. Some untreated depressive symptoms may persist for long periods of time.
In order to avoid unpleasant – and even severe consequences -, educate yourselves in the proper use of anabolic steroids before deciding to use them.