Anabolic steroids have seemingly become a scourge among today’s athletes, who are cautiously coming forward with tales of rampant and widespread abuse among their peers. We who are not privy find it hard to fathom the extent to which these claims have been made, but the truth of the matter is that steroid use and abuse is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on. Oftentimes, as with other things, we are left scratching our heads in disbelief. Where are these drugs coming from? Do they have any real purpose? Why do they even exist?

Science created steroids for a specific reason, but to understand that reason, we must examine their beneficence. In certain instances, synthetic hormones do serve a purpose. People who can no longer produce enough testosterone, either through injury or loss of their testicles through cancer, can retain somewhat of a normal existence with steroid therapy. Steroids were created to assist the weak and infirm in their recovery to health and vigor. Some have claimed it was the condition of the concentration camp survivors at the end of World War II that prompted science to create synthetic hormones.

There are several classes of steroids. Corticosteroids, for example, are anti-inflammatory in nature and are used for such conditions as arthritis and tendinitis. Anabolic steroids, conversely, are the class that interests athletes, who wish to pack on muscle and strength quickly by taking them. Bodybuilders discovered the miraculous effects of anabolic steroids in the 1950’s. Anyone who is familiar with the evolution of bodybuilding can attest to the upsurge of musculature that occurred during this time. It is no accident. Anabolic steroids entered the arena.

Where the problem occurs is when coaches and individuals take a hormone such as testosterone without a need for it- other than to satisfy a burning desire to win. The tide of drug use in sports is very strong. Where the margin narrows among top competitors, steroids gives the advantage of faster recovery, more energy, and faster growth. This edge can mean the difference between playing and not playing, and merely competing and winning.

Open any bodybuilding magazine, and the incredulous musculature of today’s bodybuilders are glaringly evident. Of course, they are going to deny any steroid use, because to admit to such would mean that their careers are over. What they must do to survive sends the wrong message to those who look up to and emulate them. Discouraged and defeated, many young bodybuilders will do almost anything to create for themselves a strong, muscle-bound physique that they most admire. It therefore becomes very easy to justify crossing that line when hard work alone isn’t enough. Thus, the torch is passed and the problem continues to be hidden and obscured.

Many who take anabolic steroids stack the drugs, which follows the adage that more is better. There is little concern for the havoc wreaked upon the body, much less the volatile emotional system. Mental breakdowns are commonplace, and angry outbursts have come to be called “roid rage”. Steroid use has led to broken marriages, friendships, as well as broken bodies. What many do not realize is that steroids create muscle tissue that is abnormal, and very prone to tearing and permanent injury. It is very easy to put on muscle much faster than the surrounding connective tissue can withstand, which increases the odds that a serious injury will occur.

People who become used to taking steroids often become addicted, and find it hard to stop at the recommended time frame and thus choose to “cycle” again. What happens, simply, is that the adrenal glands are so taxed by the drug that fatigue and listlessness accompany withdrawal. Gone also is the added appearance of looking “hard” and musclebound. Depression often accompanies an athlete who finds himself in this predicament. He longs for the energy and vigor of his former condition. Some stay on the drug continuously because of this. It is no coincidence that heart attacks and other frightening medical crises coincide with athletes who otherwise appear normal and healthy.

What is even more shocking is the steroid abuse among females. The secondary sexual characteristics of taking a male hormone are often irreversible. Growth of facial hair, deepening of the voice, development of an “Adam’s apple”, and enlarged genitalia are just a few of the shocking side effects that women ill-consider when deciding to take the plunge for their careers. Women who have masculine physiques are not freaks, but merely making a choice to be more like men than women.

It is hard to know where this trend will go and if it will ever cease to be. It is rumored that taking Growth Hormone is becoming more and more popular. Growth Hormone is also a naturally occurring hormone, which when augmented can create freakish gains and unbelievable strength. When it seemed that things could get no worse, they appeared to have gotten worse. Young people should make themselves aware that being clean and choosing to be an athlete is a rarity these days, and it should be something to be proud of. With the proper understanding and a good self-image, athletes of today can steer clear of a scourge that sucks so many of the unsuspecting upstarts into its nether regions.

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