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Anabolic Steroids: What Is It, Types, Uses And Side Effects

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There has been a lot of curiosity regarding anabolic steroids. But unfortunately, thousands of gym enthusiasts knowingly and unknowingly have been using these anabolic steroids.

There are high chances that if these people are educated about the ill effects of its usage, they might not go down this path.

Hence, this write-up is an attempt to encapsulate most of the essential information when it comes to anabolic steroids.

All about Anabolic Steroids

What Is Anabolic Steroid?

Anabolic steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids, are an artificial variety of the male sex hormone known as testosterone. Anabolic steroids are steroidal androgens that have testosterone and synthetic androgens.

These synthetic androgens could work to imitate and produce testosterone-like effects on the body of the user.

Anabolic steroids are famously known[1] as performance-enhancing drugs. Bodybuilders, athletes, weight lifting professionals, and fitness enthusiasts misuse these by stacking them up for their muscle gain goals.

As one could regard testosterone as the essential male sex hormone, these anabolic steroids claim to produce testosterone-like androgenic effects. Lean muscle growth, lower fat accumulation, husky voice, and increased facial and body hair could be some signs of proper testosterone levels in a male body.

Anabolic steroids could increase[1] the amount of protein inside the cells, specifically in the skeletal muscle. This could enhance muscle growth and strength.

Moreover, the androgens in anabolic steroids could produce masculinization in the users. This could develop increased body hair and other male characteristics.

Having said all that, you might want to note that consumption and possession of anabolic steroids without a proper medical prescription are considered illegal.

How Do Anabolic Steroids Work?

Anabolic Steroids claim to work by imitating[2] the working procedure of the naturally present testosterone in the body. It does so by activating the body’s androgen receptors.

Physicians have done the medical usage of anabolic androgenic steroids for treating diseases that cause loss of muscle mass like cancer and osteoporosis.

Anabolic steroids work to provide an androgenic effect, and one could use them in androgen replacement therapy for men with low levels of testosterone.

Additionally, Anabolic steroids may work by enhancing the athletic performance of athletes and bodybuilders. Therefore, sometimes it is also called[2] a performance-enhancing drug.

It works by giving its users a competitive edge or helping them recover faster from injuries.

Misuse Of Anabolic Steroids

As already mentioned above, anabolic steroids could be taken as performance-enhancing drugs. The users opt for it as a shortcut towards muscle building along with fat loss.

But using anabolic steroids in this way could produce[3]  a lot of undesirable effects, like aggression and hostility.

However, a lot of users reported that anabolic steroids have also enabled[4] them to recover faster after intense training sessions and increased libido.

The non-athletes expect to gain muscles that they think could provide them with an attractive appearance.

Thus, some users follow the path of anabolic steroids and use them to increase confidence levels. They also think that it could help them gain bigger muscles more than weight training alone could ever give them.

Moreover, most users have indeed reported that anabolic steroids have helped[5] them gain their dream body with huge muscles.

Most people stack them up or follow a definite on and off cycle of consuming anabolic steroids. The users used anabolic steroids orally or inject them.

A common way of taking anabolic steroids is discussed below-

  • Anabolic Steroid Cycle

    One could define a steroid cycle as a pattern of consuming any steroid dosage for a certain amount of time in the form of a cycle.

    After completing the cycle, one stops consuming it and then restarts the same pattern after a certain number of days and weeks.

  • Anabolic Steroid Stack

    As the name suggests, in this method of taking up anabolic steroids, the users generally stack up a combination of two or more types of steroids and use them orally or try to inject and mix things up.

  • Anabolic Steroid Pyramid

    The pyramid method of taking anabolic steroids means the user might decide on gradually increasing the misuse of the steroid dosage up to its prime and then following the same gradual decline in the dosage up to zero amount of dosage.

Anabolic Steroid Names: Types Of Anabolic Steroids

  1. Dianabol

    Dianabol was the first legal anabolic steroid that scientists developed as a testosterone alternative and comes[6] under anabolic androgenic steroid.

    Anabolic steroid Dianabol was considered highly effective by the athletes as it enhanced their performance and it aided them in a good amount of muscle growth in a short[7] time, which is considered unusual.

    Unlike other steroids, Dianabol was available in pill form so the users could easily take it along with water.

    The users claimed that Dianabol helped in increasing protein synthesis which meant they could experience more muscle gain.

    Dianabol had users boasting about it working quickly in a short time but the after-effects of such a steroid that enhances protein synthesis and testosterone in this way could raise serious health concerns.

    Health issues like high blood pressure, hair loss, or even stroke could be the consequent effect of Dianabol usage. Moreover, Dianabol could also affect the liver leading to liver infection and liver failure.

    While in men it could cause prostate cancer, Dianabol could also pose major threats in women as it may cause excessive hair growth on the face and body while also deepening their voices too.

    Apart from these major health issues, physical problems may also arise with Dianabol usage like aggression, irritability, paranoia, etc making its user lose their cool and get highly aggressive even on petty issues.

    Thus, it is never advised to take  Dianabol as these long-term health outcomes from Dianabol could be devastating and in some cases even irreversible.

  2. Turinabol

    Turinabol referred to as Tbol is Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone which is the only anabolic androgenic steroid developed for non-medical purposes.

    Turinabol is an anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) that could give quick results on muscle and strength.

    Turinabol users claim that it has helped them enhance their workout performance.

    Moreover, they have also boasted it is useful in improving their recovery time and decreasing the amount of soreness and fatigue in the body.

    Initially, it was used for the treatment[8] of osteoporosis, but then it was discontinued in most countries.

    As per the users, Turinabol could increase metabolic rate which resulted in increased fat loss and helped them get the shredded body that they try so hard to achieve.

    Turinabol has been mentioned on the WADA prohibited list and even after several warnings were issued against its usage, people still manage to obtain it from the black market.

    The athletes used Turinabol to gain an unfair advantage over other participants in the competition as it made them gain more muscles and unfairly improved their performance in a short time.

    Side effects of Turinabol include hair loss, insomnia, random mood swings, and a decrease in testosterone levels.

    That’s not all, a long-term usage of this anabolic androgenic steroid could pose some major health issues for its users.

    A high dose of Turinabol could pose harsh effects on the body and an anabolic androgenic steroid could influence[9] The secondary hormonal changes and behavioral patterns in men.

  3. Trenbolone

    Trenbolone is a steroid and an androgen anabolic steroid. It was used on livestock to increase its appetite and grow its muscles.

    Trenbolone manufacturers claim that it could benefit the user by aiding in the development of muscle mass, much more than the amount achieved by natural testosterone.

    Considered the most potent steroid on the market, Trenbolone comes with a lot of warning signs.

    Trenbolone is derived from Nandrolone which is a member of the 19-nor compound from the anabolic steroid family.

    As per its users, Trenbolone could help in providing increased strength in the body. It could bind the receptors in acquiring a good amount of muscle mass.

    This anabolic androgenic steroid Trenbolone could speed up this muscle development in the body. Moreover, Trenbolone claims to work by cutting all the excess fat from the body while preserving muscle mass.

    Trenbolone manufacturers claim that once metabolized, it could increase the ammonium ion absorption in the muscles thereby increasing protein synthesis.

    The harmful effects of taking Trenbolone are mentioned everywhere on the internet. Physical issues include[10] high blood pressure when a man experienced myocardial infarction with its usage.

    Not only this, Trenbolone could affect male fertility and harm testosterone levels leading to reduced sexual functions. It might also cause chronic cough, premature balding, and high cholesterol levels in the body.

  4. Sustanon

    An anabolic androgenic steroid, Sustanon is a 4 testosterone combination steroid.  Sustanon releases testosterone in the bloodstream which makes a continuous supply of these hormones in the body.

    Initially, Sustanon was used for men with medical issues of extremely low testosterone levels in the body. The testosterone deficiency could cause a decrease in the development of male characteristics such as deep voice, facial hair, etc.

    Sustanon claims to address these testosterone deficiencies in men by providing a continuous flow of testosterone phenylpropionate, testosterone isocaproate, testosterone decanoate, and testosterone propionate in the bloodstream.

    Talking about its misuse, bodybuilders and athletes use it discreetly to increase their workout output and stack on some unusual amount of muscle mass.

    As mentioned on the prohibited list, Sustanon and its free circulation are not permitted and could not be used without a prescription by a certified doctor, and would be considered illegal to possess Sustanon.

    Sustanon could cause discomfort upon consumption as it comes with a lot of negative effects.

    Not only does Sustanon cause discomfort, but it’s also all across the internet that it might cause weight gain, anxiety, male pattern baldness, changes in liver function tests, cholesterol levels, etc.

  5. Anadrol

    Anadrol is the brand name for Oxymetholone, an anabolic and androgenic steroid (AAS) that was initially used for the treatment of anemia and osteoporosis. It was also used for weight and muscle gain.

    Anadrol users claim that it helped them gain huge muscles as it elevates testosterone to extraordinary levels that would add to increased muscle growth.

    Apart from working to add on more muscles, Anadrol claims to help in retaining fluid inside of the muscles that would largely improve strength levels.

    This androgenic and anabolic steroid may cause liver damage and might cause excessive water retention in the body if consumed beyond a certainly recommended dosage.

    Another downside of Anadrol is that it could cause high blood pressure. After consumption of Anadrol,  it could shut down testosterone function as it messes up the natural production of testosterone in the body.

Anabolic Steroids And Teens

One can observe the misuse of anabolic steroids in adults and teenagers. The harmful effects of anabolic steroids range from short-term to long-term, depending on the time and amount consumed.

Teens use these anabolic steroids with the hope to increase their workout performance but as they’re still at a young age, it puts them at a high risk of health issues.

Teens call them by slang names like juice or roids and obtain them from a licensed practitioner on the ground of facilitating the body with testosterones for those who encounter late puberty and scarcity of growth.

Some of the teenagers manage to get it from shady clinics on the black market. Moreover, they’re vendors who still sell it online that even lack prescriptions.

Consumption of anabolic steroids could cause serious harm to teens or anyone who tries to take it for quick muscle and strength gains and could largely affect their lives.

Teens could experience mood swings and acne at the start of the usage and should alert themselves of anabolic steroids’ potential to harm in the long run, leading to catastrophic side effects like liver damage and infertility.

A side effect that could be experienced by a male teen could be the problem[11] of cognition problems and inability to maintain focus in later years.

Moreover, early exposure to steroids in teens could also affect brain health and cause changes in certain brain regions like learning and emotions.

The damage caused by these anabolic steroids could be extremely dangerous and in some cases, even irreversible. Thus, teens should stay away from taking any type of anabolic steroids.

Thus, a natural way would be better and recommended for increasing workout performance and strength like proper exercising and following a good diet and nutrition schedule would enhance[12] sports performance.

Anabolic Steroids Side Effects On Brain

Anabolic steroids influence cellular activity and gene expression through binding to androgen receptors.

The activation of androgen receptors helps in developing[13] male characteristics and increases calcium inside skeletal muscles and brain cells.

Anabolic steroids could cause[14] psychiatric symptoms like mood swings and aggression and other cognitive issues.

People use anabolic steroids for aesthetic purposes to improve their appearance and muscle growth but they often overlook the dangers it could do to their brain.

Anabolic Steroid Side Effects

Anabolic steroids could induce side effects in their users that could be mild, but in some cases, they could be dangerous and cost lives.

Thus, if one is consuming these anabolic steroids for bodybuilding and improving their gym performance, you could safely say they are misusing[15] anabolic steroids.

And hence, there is no point in gaining short-term progress at the cost of physical and mental health.

The side effects could be experienced in men as well in women. These side effects of anabolic steroids could be short-term and reversible and long-term and irreversible, like-

Cardiovascular Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroids

  • High Cholesterol
  • Blood Clotting
  • Stroke
  • Artery Injury
  • Hormonal Side Effects In Men And Women

In Women

  • They Might Experience A Reduction In Breast Size
  • Might Experience Voice Deepening
  • Tend To Develop Rough Skin
  • Unusual Growth Of Body Hair

In Men

  • Testicles Shrinkage
  • Male Pattern Baldness
  • Reduced Sperm Quantity
  • Testicular Atrophy

Anabolic Side Effect On Liver

Anabolic Steroids could cause[16] liver conditions like liver neoplasm and liver toxicity in their users, leading to abnormal liver function. The issues could be found in healthy people using anabolic steroids and facing liver injuries.

The fatty liver could also be one of the causes of regular consumption of steroids.

Psychiatric And Dermal Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroids

  • Aggression
  • Delusion
  • Obsession
  • Acne
  • Oily Scalp And Skin
  • Cysts
  • Sleeping Issues

Thus, it could be said that the consumption of Anabolic steroids could cause more harm than it would do any good to its users.

Are Anabolic Steroids Addictive?

Anabolic steroids could cause a habit in their users if they use them for a long time. Thus, these users find it very hard to live a normal social life while being on its dosage or cycle.

These in turn cause steroid or substance use disorder which causes the users to continue taking it even after facing side effects like anxiety or aggression.

Moreover, an anabolic steroid user misses out on social gatherings and other essential work just to clock in his daily workouts and stick to his steroids dosage.

Not only this, a fear to lose out on muscles cause these anabolic steroid users to spend a hefty amount of money on buying them.

Coming back from steroid misuse is not easy. The withdrawal from anabolic steroids happens when the user feels excessively[17} dependent on the anabolic steroids.

While trying to gain back normal functioning of the body, the users might experience fatigue, restlessness, irritability, reduced sex drive, and a desire for steroids.

In some cases, serious withdrawal symptoms of anabolic steroids include[18] psychiatric disorders and depression which might become even suicidal for the users.

Treatment For Anabolic Steroid Addiction

Anabolic steroid users need to seek treatment to restore their natural physical and mental health The following treatment could be done for Anabolic steroid addiction-

Medications and psychological restoratives could be done for muscle dysmorphia that could help the anabolic steroid users mend their testosterone levels and psychological imbalances.

Another way to address the problem raised by anabolic steroid misuse is to opt for endocrine therapies for those who have experienced loss in sperm counts and quality and hypogonadism.

Antidepressants for those anabolic steroid users who experienced depression upon withdrawal.

Another treatment for Anabolic steroid addiction is by addressing the problem of dependency through[19] pharmacological and psychosocial treatments.

Anabolic Steroid And Law

Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs that could be available for use only after a specific prescription by a certified practitioner.

As per the Anabolic Steroids Control Act Of 1990, anabolic steroid is included[20] in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), as of February 27, 1991.

Thus, the possession of anabolic steroids without prescription would be considered illegal and if found the user might face outcomes like fines and jail terms.

Conclusion

Thus, it could be concluded that taking Anabolic Steroids for quicker results, strength goals and performance enhancement is dangerous and should never be used.

Moreover, possessing these Anabolic steroids without a proper prescription is against the law and if discovered, the user could face troublesome legal consequences, penalties, and even a prison sentence.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. What are Anabolic steroids. Available from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids
  2.  Anabolic Steroids. Available from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/steroids
  3. Fred Hartgens , Harm Kuipers. Effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids in athletes. Sports Med. 2004;34(8):513-54.doi: 10.2165/00007256-200434080-00003. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15248788/
  4. M S Bahrke , J E Wright, R H Strauss, D H Catlin. Psychological moods and subjectively perceived behavioral and somatic changes accompanying anabolic-androgenic steroid use. Am J Sports Med. Nov-Dec 1992;20(6):717-24.doi: 10.1177/036354659202000613.
  5. S Wright , S Grogan, G Hunter. Motivations for Anabolic Steroid use Among Bodybuilders. J Health Psychol. 2000 Jul;5(4):566-71.doi: 10.1177/135910530000500413. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22049197/
  6. David J Handelsman, AO, MB, BS, PhD, FRACP, FAHMS.Androgen Physiology, Pharmacology, Use and Misuse. Last Update: October 5, 2020. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279000/
  7. G R Hervey, A V Knibbs, L Burkinshaw, et al. Effects of methandienone on the performance and body composition of men undergoing athletic training. Clinical Trial Clin Sci (Lond). 1981 Apr;60(4):457-61.doi: 10.1042/cs0600457. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7018798/
  8. Jan Tauchen, Michal Jurášek,2 Lukáš Huml, et al. Medicinal Use of Testosterone and Related Steroids Revisited. Molecules. 2021 Feb; 26(4): 1032.Published online 2021 Feb 15. doi: 10.3390/molecules26041032
  9. R C Daly , T-P Su, P J Schmidt, M Pagliaro, D Pickar, D R Rubinow, et al. Neuroendocrine and behavioral effects of high-dose anabolic steroid administration in male normal volunteers. Clinical Trial Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2003 Apr;28(3):317-31.doi: 10.1016/s0306-4530(02)00025-2. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12573299/
  10. Kavous Shahsavari nia, Farzad Rahmani, Hanieh Ebrahimi Bakhtavar, et al. A Young Man with Myocardial Infarction due to Trenbolone Acetate; a Case Report. Emerg (Tehran). 2014 Winter; 2(1): 43–45.
  11. Tom Hildebrandt , James W Langenbucher , Adrianne Flores, et al. The influence of age of onset and acute anabolic steroid exposure on cognitive performance, impulsivity, and aggression in men. Psychol Addict Behav. 2014 Dec;28(4):1096-104.doi: 10.1037/a0036482. Epub 2014 May 19. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24841181/
  12. Sporting Performance And Food. Available from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/sporting-performance-and-food
  13. Takahiro Matsumoto , Matomo Sakari, Maiko Okada, et al. The androgen receptor in health and disease. Review. Annu Rev Physiol. 2013;75:201-24.doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183656. Epub 2012 Nov 13. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23157556/
  14. Marc J. Kaufman, Amy C. Janes, James I. Hudson, et al. Brain and Cognition Abnormalities in Long-Term Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Users. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Jul 1; 152: 47–56.Published online 2015 May 7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.04.023.
  15. What are the side effects of anabolic steroid misuse? Available from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/what-are-side-effects-anabolic-steroid-misuse
  16. Paulo Adriano Schwingel , Helma Pinchemel Cotrim , Crimério Ribeiro dos Santos Jr, et al. Recreational Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use Associated With Liver Injuries Among Brazilian Young Men. Subst Use Misuse. 2015;50(11):1490-8.doi: 10.3109/10826084.2015.1018550. Epub 2015 Nov 7. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26549387/
  17. Harrison G Pope Jr , Gen Kanayama, Alison Athey, et al. The lifetime prevalence of anabolic-androgenic steroid use and dependence in Americans: current best estimates. Am J Addict. Jul-Aug 2014;23(4):371-7.doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12118.x. Epub 2013 Sep 20. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24112239/
  18. D A Malone Jr , R J Dimeff, J A Lombardo, R H Sample. Psychiatric effects and psychoactive substance use in anabolic-androgenic steroid users. Comparative Study Clin J Sport Med. 1995;5(1):25-31.doi: 10.1097/00042752-199501000-00005.
  19. Gen Kanayama , Kirk J Brower, Ruth I Wood, et al. Treatment of anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence: Emerging evidence and its implications. Review Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jun 1;109(1-3):6-13.doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.01.011. Epub 2010 Feb 25. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20188494/
  20. What are anabolic steroids? March 2004. Available from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/brochures/steroids/public/

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