What are anabolic steroids? They are:
- Synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones (androgens). They promote growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic effect) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects), and also have other effects. (The term “anabolic steroids” will be used throughout this bulletin because of its familiarity, although the proper term for these compounds is “anabolic/androgenic” steroids.)
- Used by doctors to treat conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty and some types of impotence, and also to treat body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases.
- Legally available in the United States only by prescription. Anabolic steroid abusers obtain drugs that have been made in clandestine laboratories (sometimes with poor quality control standards), smuggled from other countries, or diverted illegally from U.S. pharmacies.
- Distinct from steroidal supplements. In the United States, supplements such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione (street name Andro) can be purchased legally without a perscription through many commercial sources including health food stores. They are often taken because the user believes they have anabolic effects.
Anabolic steroid abuse is:
- Increasing among adolescents, and most rapidly among females. The 1999 Monitoring the Future study, a NIDA-funded survey of drug abuse among middle school and high school students across the United States, recorded that 2.7 percent of 8th-graders, 2.7 percent of 10th-graders, and 2.9 percent of 12th-graders reported having taken anabolic steroids at least once in their lives. These figures represent increases since 1991 of approximately 50 percent among 8th- and 10th-graders and 38 percent among 12th-graders.
- Probably widespread among athletes and would-be sports competitors at all levels, although few data are available to provide exact estimates of prevalence. Many anabolic steroid abusers are unwilling to report the practice, because the International Olympic Committee and many other amateur and professional sports organizations have banned anabolic steroids.
- Motivated in most cases by a desire to build muscles and improve sports performance. Some individuals are motivated by erroneous perceptions of their own bodies (that is, a mistaken belief that they look underweight or obese) and others by a desire to prevent recurrence of physical or sexual attacks they have experienced.
Anabolic steroids are taken:
- Orally as tablets or capsules (Anadrol® [oxymetholone], Oxandrin® [oxandrolone], Dianabol® [ methandrostenolone], Winstrol® [stanozolol], and others); by injection into muscles (Deca-Durabolin® [nandrolone decanoate], Durabolin® [nandrolone phenpropionate], Depo-Testosterone® [testosterone cypionate], Equipoise® [boldenone undecylenate], and others); or by ointment preparations rubbed into the skin. Doses taken by abusers can be up to 100 times more than the doses used for treating medical conditions.
- In combinations, a practice called “stacking.” Abusers frequently take two or more anabolic steroids together, mixing oral and/or injectable types, sometimes adding drugs such as stimulants or painkillers. The rationale for stacking is a belief-which has not been tested by science-that the different drugs interact to produce a greater effect on muscle size than could be obtained by simply increasing the dose of a single drug.
- In cyclic dosage regimens, a practice called “pyramiding.” At the beginning of a cycle, the person starts with low doses of the stacked substances and then gradually increases the doses for 6 to 12 weeks. In the second half of the cycle, the doses are slowly decreased to zero. This is sometimes followed by a second cycle during which the person continues to train, but without drugs. Abusers believe that pyramiding allows the body time to adjust to the high doses, and the drug-free cycle allows time for the body’s hormonal system to recuperate. As with stacking, the perceived benefits of pyramiding have not been substantiated scientifically.
If you or a loved one needs help, contact Jeff at (941) 586-0929
This information is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.