Steroids: A Growing Role in SocietyBrett HuelsmanPerry BensonEnglish 125May 9, 2005418 Gateway DriveGrand Forks, ND 58203May 9, 2005Perry BensonEnglish 125 InstructorUniversity of North DakotaGrand Forks, ND 58202Dear Mr. Benson:Here is my research project on steroids and its effect on society. While conducting my research I have learned that steroids are becoming a serious and dangerous problem in society. I believe that my research project would be a good reference for anyone interested in the science and culture of steroids in America.
Some of the topics I covered in my project are topics that have for the most part been ignored by most scholarly works on steroids. For example, I have devoted a whole section of my paper to the prevention and care of steroid use. I also included a large section on the scientific facts and effects that steroids have on the body.The issue of steroids in society is a very hot topic and I was able to find many helpful materials from many different sources. One of these sources is a controversial book written by a former Major League Baseball player.
Other sources are from newspaper and magazine articles written in lieu of the recent controversies. By using subjective materials such as these I was able to get a feel for the opinions within American culture regarding the use of steroids.I’ve enjoyed working on this project, and would be happy to answer any questions.
Sincerely,Brett A. HuelsmanAbstractSteroid use is a growing problem in society. There is a multitude of research pertaining to the science of steroids but the prevention and treatment of steroid use has for the most part been largely ignored. In order to get to the root of the problem the research should contain not only the basics of steroids, but also the culture of steroid use.The reasons why people use steroids range from improving sports performance to prevention of abuse and rape. By focusing not only on the obvious reasons for steroid use, the prevention and treatment of steroid use becomes a much bigger and more complicated problem than most would assume.
There are many different procedures being used to control steroids and their abuse. Some of them appear to be working but many of them do not. Only telling people the adverse affects of steroids is the most ineffective way to control the problem. Rather, teaching people the risks and rewards of steroids and how to receive the same rewards without actually using the drugs seems to be the most effective method.Steroids have now taken center stage with the recent government intervention of steroids in professional sports. There is no better time to address the issue of steroids in society than now.To address this situation research on steroids and its effect will be conducted as well as a cultural evaluation of steroids in society.
Introduction”Anabolic Steroids” is the familiar name for synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones (androgens). They promote the growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic effects) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects), and also have some other effects. The term “anabolic steroids” will be used throughout this report because of its familiarity, although the proper term for these compounds is “anabolic-androgenic” steroids (Gallaway, 1997, p. 6).Anabolic steroids were developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning. The primary medical uses of these compounds are to treat delayed puberty, some types of impotence, and wasting of the body caused by HIV infection of other diseases (Lukas, 2001, p.
11).During the 1930s, scientists discovered that anabolic steroids could facilitate the growth of skeletal muscle in laboratory animals, which led to use of the compounds first by bodybuilders and weightlifters and then by athletes in other sports. Steroid abuse has become so widespread in athletics that it affects the outcome of sports contests.More than one hundred different anabolic steroids have been developed, but they require a prescription to be used legally in the United States. Most steroids that are used illegally are smuggled in from other countries, illegally diverted from U.
S. pharmacies, or synthesized in clandestine laboratories (Paris, 2005).What is the scope of steroid use in the United States?Recent evidence suggests that steroid use among adolescents is on the rise.
The 1999 Monitoring the Future study, a National Institute on Drug Abuse funded survey of drug abuse among adolescents in middle and high schools across the United States, estimated that 2.7 percent of 8th- and 10th-graders and 2.9 percent of 12th-graders had taken anabolic steroids at least once in their lives. For 10th-graders, that is a significant increase from 1998, when 2.0 percent of 10th graders said they had taken anabolic steroids at least once.
For all three grades, the 1999 levels represent a significant increase from 1991, the first year that data on steroid abuse were collected from the younger students. In that year, 1.9 percent of 8th-graders, 1.8 percent of 10th-graders, and 2.1 percent of 12th-graders reported that they had taken anabolic steroids at least once.Few data exist on the extent of steroid use by adults.
It has been estimated that hundreds of thousands of people aged eighteen and older abuse anabolic steroids at least once a year.Among both adolescents and adults, steroid use is higher among males than females. However, steroid abuse is growing most rapidly among young women (NIDA, 2005).Steroid use among professional athletes has taken center stage due to the explosion of allegations and suspensions in many of the professional sports leagues. Some former athletes estimate that steroid use in the pros could be somewhere between 20 to 50 percent. To most fans, this is a staggering number that compromises the integrity of the professional sports leagues. To the athletes who are not using steroids, this creates an unfair disadvantage for those who are actually abiding by the rules.
Jose Canseco, former professional baseball superstar and admitted steroid user, believes that the use of steroids in professional sports is a positive thing and he credits steroids for the resurgent popularity of baseball in the new millennium (Canseco, 2005, 148).Why do people use anabolic steroids?One of the main reasons people give for using steroids is to improve their performance in sports. Among competitive bodybuilders, steroid abuse has been estimated to be very high. Among other athletes the incidence of abuse probably varies depending on the specific sport.Another reason people give for taking steroids is to increase their muscle size and/or reduce their body fat. This group includes some people who have a behavioral syndrome (muscle dysmorphia) in which a person has a distorted image of his of her body. Men with this condition think that they look small and weak, even if they are large and muscular.
Similarly, women with the syndrome think that they look fat and flabby, even though they are actually lean and muscular (Ciola, 2004, p.86).Some people who abuse steroids to boost muscle size have experienced physical or sexual abuse. They are trying to increase their muscle size to protect themselves. In one series of interviews with male weight-lifters given by the NIDA, 25 percent who abused steroids reported memories of childhood physical or sexual abuse, compared with none who did not abuse steroids. In a study of women weightlifters, twice as many of those who had been raped reported using anabolic steroids and/or another purported muscle-building drug, compared to those who had not been raped.
Moreover, almost all of those who had been raped reported that they markedly increased their bodybuilding activities after the attack. They believed that being bigger and stronger would discourage further attacks because men would find them either intimidating or unattractive (NIDA, 2005).Finally, some adolescents use steroids as part of a pattern of high-risk behaviors. These adolescents also take risks such as drinking and driving, carrying a gun, not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle, and abusing other illicit drugs .While conditions such as muscle dysmorphia, a history of physical or sexual abuse, or a history of engaging in high-risk behaviors may increase the risk of initiating or continuing steroid use, researchers agree that most steroid users are psychologically normal when they start abusing the drugs.How are anabolic steroids used?Some anabolic steroids are taken orally, others are injected intramuscularly, and still others are provided in gels or creams that are rubbed on the skin.
Doses taken by users can be 10 to 100 times higher than the doses used for medical conditions.Steroid users typically “stack” the drugs, meaning that they take two or more different anabolic steroids, mixing oral and/or injectable types and sometimes even including compounds that are designed for veterinary use. Users think that the different steroids interact to produce an effect on muscle size that is greater than the effects of each drug individually, a theory that has not been tested scientifically.
Often, steroid users also “pyramid” their doses in cycles of six to twelve weeks. At the beginning of a cycle, the person starts with low doses of the drugs being stacked and then slowly increases the doses. In the second half of the cycle, the doses are slowly decreased to zero. This is sometimes followed by a second cycle in which the person continues to train but without drugs. Users believe that pyramiding allows the body time to adjust to the high doses and the drug-free cycle allows the body’s hormonal system time to recuperate. As with stacking, the perceived benefits of pyramiding and cycling have not been substantiated scientifically (Kerr, 1982, p.
115).What are the health consequences of steroid use?Anabolic steroid use has been associated with a wide range of adverse side effects ranging from some that are physically unattractive, such as acne and breast development in men, to others that are life threatening, such as heart attacks and liver cancer. Most are reversible if the abuser stops taking the drugs, but some are permanent.Most data on the long-term effects of anabolic steroids on humans come from case reports rather than formal epidemiological studies. From the case reports, the incidence of life-threatening effects appears to be low, but serious adverse effects may be under-recognized or under-reported.
Data from animal studies seem to support this possibility. One study found that exposing male mice for one-fifth of their lifespan to steroid doses comparable to those taken by human athletes caused a high percentage of premature deaths (Silverstein, 1992, p. 56).Hormonal systemSteroid use disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body, causing both reversible and irreversible changes.
Changes that can be reversed include reduced sperm production and shrinking of the testicles (testicular atrophy). Irreversible changes include male-pattern baldness and breast development (gynecomastia). In one study of male bodybuilders, more than half had testicular atrophy, and more than half had gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is thought to occur due to the disruption of normal hormone balance.In the female body, anabolic steroids cause masculinization. Breast size and body fat decrease, the skin becomes coarse, the clitoris enlarges, and the voice deepens. Women may experience excessive growth of body hair but lose scalp hair.
With continued administration of steroids, some of these effects are irreversible.Musculoskeletal systemRising levels of testosterone and other sex hormones normally trigger the growth spurt that occurs during puberty and adolescence. Subsequently, when these hormones reach certain levels, they signal the bones to stop growing, locking a person into his or her maximum height. When a child or adolescent takes anabolic steroids, the resulting artificially high sex hormone levels can signal the bones to stop growing sooner than they normally would have done.Cardiovascular systemSteroid abuse has been associated with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attacks and strokes, even in athletes younger than 30. Steroids contribute to the development of CVD, partly by changing the levels of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood.
Steroids, particularly the oral types, increase the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and decrease the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). High LDL and low HDL levels increase the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty substances are deposited inside arteries and disrupt blood flow. If blood is prevented from reaching the heart, the result can be a heart attack. If blood is prevented from reaching the brain, the result can be a stroke.LiverSteroid abuse has been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Both the tumors and the cysts sometimes rupture, causing internal bleeding.
SkinSteroid abuse can cause acne, cysts, and oily hair and skin.InfectionMany abusers who inject anabolic steroids use nonsterile injection techniques or share contaminated needles with other abusers. In addition, some steroid preparations are manufactured illegally under non-sterile conditions. These factors put abusers at risk for acquiring life-threatening viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Abusers also can develop infective endocarditis, a bacterial illness that causes a potentially fatal inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. Bacterial infections also can cause pain and abscess formation at injection sites (Yesalis, 2000, p.182).Are anabolic steroids addictive?An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continuing to take steroids in spite of physical problems, negative effects on social relations, or nervousness and irritability. Also, they spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs and experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and the desire to take more steroids. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. Untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs (Silverstein, 1992).
What can be done to prevent steroid use?Early attempts to prevent steroid abuse concentrated on drug testing and on educating students about the drugs’ adverse effects. A few school districts test for abuse of illicit drugs, including steroids, and studies are currently under way to determine whether such testing reduces drug abuse.Research on steroid educational programs has shown that simply teaching students about steroids’ adverse effects does not convince adolescents that they personally can be adversely affected. Nor does such instruction discourage young people from taking steroids in the future. Presenting both the risks and benefits of anabolic steroid use is more effective in convincing adolescents about steroids’ negative effects, apparently because the students find a balanced approach more credible and less biased, according to the researchers. However, the balanced approach still does not discourage adolescents from abusing steroids (Gallaway, 1997, p.
214).A more sophisticated approach has shown promise for preventing steroid abuse among players on high school sports teams. In the ATLAS program, developed for male football players, coaches and team leaders discuss the potential effects of anabolic steroids and other illicit drugs on immediate sports performance, and they teach how to refuse offers of drugs. They also discuss how strength training and proper nutrition can help adolescents build their bodies without the use of steroids. Later, special trainers teach the players proper weightlifting techniques.
An ongoing series of studies has shown that this multicomponent, team-centered approach reduces new steroid abuse by 50 percent. A program designed for adolescent girls on sports teams, patterned after the program designed for boys, is currently being tested (Teens and Steroids, 2005).What treatments are effective for anabolic steroid abuse?Few studies of treatments for anabolic steroid abuse have been conducted.
Current knowledge is based largely on the experiences of a small number of physicians who have worked with patients undergoing steroid withdrawal. The physicians have found that supportive therapy is sufficient in some cases. Patients are educated about what they may experience during withdrawal and are evaluated for suicidal thoughts.
If symptoms are severe or prolonged, medications or hospitalization may be needed.Some medications that have been used for treating steroid withdrawal restore the hormonal system after its disruption by steroid abuse. Other medications target specific withdrawal symptoms-for example, antidepressants to treat depression, and analgesics for head-aches and muscle and joint pains.
Some patients require assistance beyond simple treatment of withdrawal symptoms and are treated with behavioral therapies (Lukas, 2001, p. 123).Closing StatementsWith steroid use rapidly increasing within society, it is as important as ever to learn more about how to control and prevent these potentially hazardous drugs. The intensive research and studying I conducted on steroids shows that there is much more to this problem than most would assume. Steroid abuse is as big of a problem as other illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, to ignore steroids would be dangerous and detrimental to the future of our society.ReferencesCanseco, J.
(2005). Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big. New York: Regan Books.
Ciola, T. (2004). Steroids Kill. Orlando: Axion Publishers.Gallaway, S. (1997). The Steroids Bible.
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The Practical Use of Anabolic Steroids With Athletes. Research Center for Sports.Lukas, S. (2001).
Steroids (The Drug Library). New Jersey: Enslow Publishers.Paris, J. (2005, April 16).
Steroids: dangerous, illegal and so very easy to obtain. North County Times Online newspaper. Retrieved April 16, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/04/17/sports/amateur.txtSilverstein, A. (1992).
Steroids: Big Muscles, Big Problems. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers.Teens and Steroids. (2000). Focus Adolescent Services.
Retrieved April 10, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.focusas.com/steroids.
htmlYesalis, C. (2000). Anabolic Steroids in Sports and Exercise. Philadelphia: Human Kinetics Publishers.