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Steroids and Athletes

It’s amazing what athletes will do to achieve higher levels of performance and to get an edge on the rivaled competition. Often people do not realize the long-term effects that result from the decisions they make early in life. This resembles the obvious phenomenon with steroids. Steroids became a spreading exposure to athletes in the Olympics and other major sporting events during the 1950’s. This use of steroids among athletes became apparent when Canadian sprint runner Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use after winning the gold medal for the 100-meter dash during the 1988 Olympics.

Now a skinny fifteen year old can just walk down to the local gym and find sellers to obtain the drug that will make him the idol of all his classmates. Being such an attractive drug, as shown in the analogy above, and seeming harmless to the unaware user, steroids can have a potentially jeopardous effect. Consistently, users, new and experienced, have no knowledge to the dangerous consequences’ steroids can have on their minds and bodies. Although steroids cause minimal deaths in our society, banning of steroids is purely justified because steroids have extremely perilous side effects on the unsuspecting user.

Though steroids are known as a somewhat dangerous substance, they are legal to possess and consume, and there has not been a true clinical study that proves such possible side effects are linked to medical problems of steroid users. Sure, there have been several cases where someone has died and an autopsy showed the person was using steroids, but this does not mean they are a lethal drug as some medical professionals have stated. Some advocates believe that because steroids are legal, and since it’s the decision of the user to take the drug, steroids are not causing a problem in society.

Millions, causing deteriorating effects on their bodies, consume alcohol and cigarettes but there has never been a protest to put a ban on the items because of their harmful nature. So how are steroids any different? Some people may state that the wide spread use of steroids among athletes is forcing young upcoming athletes to use steroids, even though it’s against their morals. This is because they know they can not compete adequately against their opponents who are using steroids to achieve higher levels of performance.

One might say this is how competition works though. Race car drivers and gymnasts are out there every day, pushing themselves harder and harder, going just a little faster, or doing a new, more difficult trick. Many believe they are forced by their own desire to win, and the hazardous risks they take, be it taking a corner a little faster or pulling an extra flip in a routine, are no different than the risks a football player, wrestler, or weight lifter takes when they choose to use steroids to increase their skills.

Many believe these reasons make steroid abuse morally justified, and say their use in sports and other activities are just an added element in boosting performance. It is true, there has not been any defined medical research to prove steroid abuse is linked to severe medical implications, but words of warning from chronic users dealing with massive medical difficulties they believe were a result of steroid abuse is just cause to prove the harmful effects of steroids. Alcohol and cigarettes are major contributors to the deaths of thousands each year.

Frequently we see a family member, or friend, suffering from diseases and health conditions caused by smoking and drinking. These conditions can often lead to an early, horrible death for the individual. Many find these experiences an obstantial reason to not drink and smoke. In a similar situation, young athletes see their former athletic idols suffering from medical problems caused by steroids. These professionals will even admit to their former steroid abuse in hopes to persuade the thousands of young athletes participating in steroid abuse each day.

I find it hard to reason how young athletes can simply ignore the warnings of these suffering abusers. This can partly be blamed on the lack of education about steroids a young athlete will receive. Nevertheless, when they see the effects steroids have in the long run on such professional athletes as Lyle Alzado, they should realize the need to give up their abuse, even if they must sacrifice the chance to win that gold medal, or give up that buff body they always dreamed of.

If an abuser was to listen to what a former addict has gone through, and possibly died from, he may be persuaded to give up his addiction, and in the end, he will find himself at an advantage because he will live a longer, healthier life. In addition, the severe physiological and psychological dependencies caused by steroids are consistent among the underground of ripping steroid users, causing personal problems with the user as well as family and friends of the user. Once a young abuser achieves the chiseled physique he always dreamed of, there is no turning back.

It would only be his worst nightmare to give up steroids and relapse to the scrawny little body he had before his steroid use. An athlete that learns the performance advantages he gains from steroids will, in a short time, become use to the edge he has obtained, and will soon be craving more. For him to simply drop his addiction cold turkey, and go back to being second best, is not even an option anymore. These addictions, as with most addictions, will cause the user to lose interest in friends and family, concentrating only on enhancements to his physique and athletic performance (Hemme, pg 58).

Even worse, the drug can cause will known “road rages” (Voy, pg. 223). This involves the spontaneous acts of violence and abuse towards anyone a user comes intact with. This is usually a worse scenario with non-athletic steroid abusers because athletes such as football players can release a good share of their rage on the playing field. Some sever addictions can include symptoms such as increased libido, sexual perversion, and psychotic episodes (Voy, pg. 223).

Because of severe symptoms of steroid addiction, it is an effective measure of the abuser’s family and friends to take necessary action in order to help an abuser with his addiction. Adolescent steroid abusers can also experience complex physiological, and psychological problems, some of which result in permanent effects. For some reason a widespread use of these so called “natural drugs” has become apparent among the teenage age group in the last four to five years. They seem to believe such drugs as marijuana and steroids do not have damaging effects on their bodies because they are natural substances.

Just because marijuana comes from a plant found in nature, or the suddenly popular hallucinogenic mushrooms found in farm pastures that grow naturally, does not mean they are not going to have harmful effects on the body. These substances’s teenagers’ use is a toxin produced by the plants to keep animals, and humans, from eating them. Though steroids are a form of the natural male hormone testosterone, they are far higher in concentration then what are bodies produce naturally. This high concentration is no doubt toxic to our bodies, and can result in harmful side effects.

At an early age, anything such as drugs is going to have an increased effect. Most teenagers are unaware of these enhanced effects that steroids have on them, thus making the drug increasingly dangerous. The massive doses, medical experts say, not only affect the muscles but also sex organs and nervous system including the brain (Schrof, pg. 235). Neil Carolan warns us, “Even a brief period of abuse on a child whose body and brain chemistry are still developing is extremely harmful and possibly permanent. ” The deaths related to steroids of several high school athletes each year is more than adequate cause to ban steroids.

Consequently, if professional athletes are taking steroids, then a young high school athlete may go under the misconception that steroids are harmless. Indeed it would serve well for high school PE instructors to teach their students about the effects of steroids and the ethics involved. Often parents discover their child’s steroid abuse and become shocked, but with the constant push a child receives to excel in sports and not having the teaching needed to know the effects and dangers of steroids, it is not the child’s failure, but society is to blame.

With competition becoming more and more aggressive among women’s athletics, it is not uncommon to find many of the women athletes harming their bodies with the use of steroids. This is a scary situation because, as we know, steroids are a form of the male hormone testosterone and are not suited for a woman. Women do have a similar, but different hormone called estrogen released naturally in their bodies. The massive doses of steroids that women will take when they are “cycling” on steroids will have many dangerous side effects (Hemme, pg. 158).

Some of these side effects are unknown and the long-term effects of steroid abuse among women are also unsure. The short-term effects involved, deepened voice, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair as well as chest and back hair, and genital problems can also result. It is unreal that a woman will continue using steroids after noticing some of the immediate effects steroids have on her. Possibly, some women may not believe that steroids are going to damage their body. Again, the dangerous effects these drugs can have on women and all individuals are indeed reasoning for their prohibition.

The lack of official research is no reason to allow the legal existence of steroids in our society. Just because there is no indubitable evidence proving the dangerous effects of steroids does not mean they do not exist. How many individuals must suffer from the addiction of steroids before we take the necessary action to abolish sanctioned use of steroids? Each year, more and more famous retired athletes are admitting to their steroid use during their career, and are certain the medical difficulties they are enduring are a direct result from their steroid abuse.

People need to listen to what these retired athletes have to say, and use their experiences with steroid use to teach our young about the dangers involved. Furthermore, a complete professional research of long and short-term effects caused by steroids on men, women and adolescents, is far overdue. Certainly the banning of steroids will not only help the lives of current users, but also prevent the further spread of addiction to steroids in our communities.

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Home » Steroids and Athletes

Steroids And Athletes

What kind of role model is Mark McGwire? Many people are familiar with his seventy homeruns in one season, but do they know that he has been using androstenedione, a type of steroid that boosts testosterone levels? While it is perfectly legal in the United States and in the major leagues, it sends the wrong health message to athletes of every age. If young adults take androstenedione, or any other steroid, they may regret it for the rest of their lives. Artificially high levels of testosterone have been shown to permanently damage the heart, trigger liver failure, and stunt a teenagers growth (Gorman 21-22).

All are too great of a price for any sport. What it all comes down to is that we need to educate both ourselves and all intercollegiate athletes about the risks involved with steroid use. Anabolic-androgenic steroids are chemical derivatives of the male sex hormones. Anabolic refers to the constructive or building-up process of the bodys metabolism. Androgen refers to male-life or masculinizing characteristics. There are also two other types of steroids: estrogenic or corticosteroids.

Estrogenic steroids produce female or feminizing characteristics, and corticosteroids originate in the cortex of the adrenal lands and have a shrinking effect. The latter is used to treat tissue stress, reduce inflammation, and to ease pain (Ringhofer 174). Users take steroids in cycles lasting six to twelve weeks or more. Stacking, or the use of more than one type of steroid, helps to maximize strength gains, minimize side effects, and avoid detection. To build size, strength, and speed, athletes often use 10 to 100 times the medical dosage (Yesalis xxv).

Anabolic-androgens can be taken either by mouth, by injection, or, more recently, by skin creams or patches (Cowart 25). The two main reasons that athletes use steroids are to improve thletic performance and to improve their appearance. In 1985, Anderson and McKeag did the first study of college athletes correlated with steroid use. They interviewed 2039 male and female athletes and discovered much new information. Nine percent of football players used anabolic-androgen steroids. Other male sports included track and field (4%), baseball (4%), tennis (4%), and basketball (3%).

The only womens sport associated with steroid use was swimming, in which 1% were users. Five percent of Division I athletes were users in 1985, as well as 4% of D-II and 2% of D-III athletes. The same study was repeated in 991, in which 2282 athletes were questioned. Overall, steroid use slightly increased, especially since three womens sports became associated with steroid use. Swimming remained at 1%, but one percent of basketball players and track and field athletes also admitted to using the drugs.

For mens sports, the figures are the following: football (10%), track and field (4%), baseball (2%), basketball (2%), and tennis (2%). Five percent of both Division I and II athletes admitted to using steroids, as well as 4% of D-III athletes (Yesalis 60). Since then, steroid use has decreased in Division I sports, but increased among females. Steroid use by adolescent girls in the US is low but significant (Cowart 61). The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids can lead to some cosmetic side effects. First, they have an effect of body hair. Body hair patterns are steroid hormone dependent.

Normal anabolic-androgenic steroid use can lead to an increase in facial hair growth and a gradual recession of the hairline. Balding is accelerated with long-term administration to normal individuals with the balding gene. Androgens increase sebaceous gland size and secretion rates, which can result in acne. Relatively weak androgens can increase sebum production and kin lipid cholesterol content also. Lipid cholesterol content appears at peak levels in the sebum excretion after three or four weeks of androgen administration (Yesalis 115-116).

Gynecomastia, the development of abnormal breast tissue in males, occurs in men when estrogen levels increase or androgen levels decrease relative to the amount of estrogen present (Yesalis 116). Many other side effects occur that are not visible. Increase in appetite, energy, or aggressiveness, and a more rapid recovery from strenuous workouts may be some of the first to appear. Anabolic-androgenic steroids can affect the iver and cardiovascular and reproductive systems. Liver function can be damaged, resulting in jaundice, blood-filled cysts, and benign and malignant tumors.

An increase in blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure can lead to early development of heart disease, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. For males, production of naturally occurring hormones may be increased, which can result in shrinking testes, low sperm count, and infertility. In females, male-like characteristics may appear, such as broader backs, wider shoulders, thicker waists, flatter chests, more body and facial air, and deeper voices. The clitoris may enlarge, and menstrual cycles may become irregular or stop completely (Ringhofer 175).

The central nervous system can also be affected by anabolic-androgenic steroids. An increase in mental awareness, elevation in mood, improvement in memory and concentration, and a reduction of sensations of fatigue can all be partly related to the stimulatory effects on the central nervous system (Yesalis 163). When individuals discontinue use of steroids, their size and strength diminish, often dramatically. These effects motivate renewed use (Yesalis 171). Physical dependence on steroids, or any other drug, is characterized by symptoms of withdrawal (Yesalis 197).

Dependent users are usually heavy users that more than likely began taking steroids before the age of sixteen. They complete more and longer cycles of use, combine multiple anabolic steroid drugs simultaneously, and use injectable anabolic steroids. In addition, they are more likely to perceive peers as steroid users. Dependence can occur within nine to twelve months after initial use. Severe dependence is marked by an excess of dependency symptoms and social dysfunction. Withdrawal from anabolic-androgenic steroids can be broken down into two phases.

The first phase may begin and end in the first week. It is characterized by increased pulse rate and blood pressure, chills, goose bumps, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. The individual is often anxious and irritable. In the second phase, which may begin in the first week and last for months, the person shows depressive symptoms and has cravings (Yesalis 205-6). The most critical task of prevention programs is to target the risk factors of anabolic steroid dependence or abuse, which I hope that I have made clear.

Prevention programs must address the broader cultural context, especially in the U. S. , that places high values on physical attractiveness and on winning competitions. Successful programs address these influences by providing alternatives for managing them. Treatment is needed when the severity of dependence hinders the user from stopping safely on his or her own. The major goal of treatment is not only, abstinence from anabolic steroids, but also restoration of health (Yesalis 208). As coaches of possible anabolic-androgenic steroid users, I suggest three ways to educate your players.

First, give a clear message that any non-medical use of steroids and other performance- or appearance-altering drugs is illegal and harmful to physical and emotional health (Ringhofer 138). Promote the importance of participation, fun, and fair play in sports instead of win-at-all-costs values. Lastly, point out that the physiques of body builders, and other role models like McGwire, do not represent healthy or necessarily attractive ideals for young people to follow. Coaches need to accept the responsibility of making their players aware of the dangers of steroid use.

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