There are many reasons athletes take performance-enhancing drugs. One might wonder though, why people would take them when there are so many more reasons why they should not. Performance-enhancing drugs are also referred to as anabolic steroids (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). "Anabolic steroids, also called steroids, roids, sauce or juice, are synthetic male hormones" (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.,). Taking performance-enhancing drugs affects not only the athlete, but all the younger generations that follow them, and want to be just like them.
There are two different types of steroids. One that is taken by mouth which is also known as "orals", and one that is injected which is known as "oils" or "waters" (Zaccardi, 2003). Orals are highly potent because they are released fairly rapidly (Zaccardi, 2003). Oils are considered long acting because they are released slowly, whereas waters are considered short acting because they are released more rapidly (Zaccardi, 2003).
When taking steroids, there are three different methods that athletes can use. Those three methods are cycling, stacking, and pyramiding. Cycling means that the user takes the steroids in cycles. They use them for 6 to 12 weeks then stop for 10 to 12 weeks (Zaccardi, 2003). Stacking means that the user takes more than one type of steroid at a time (Zaccardi, 2003). Pyramiding means that the user starts with a small dose then increases slowly (Zaccardi, 2003).
There are many physical side effects that the user can get from using any type of steroids. Some side effects affect both sexes. One of these is increased risk of cancer and liver disease (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). Another affect is decreased immune system effectiveness (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). They can also cause infertility and risk of cardiovascular disease (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005).
There are some physical side effects that effect only males, females or adolescents. A few of the side effects that effect only males are decreased testicular size, increased risk of prostate enlargement and cancer, and gynecomastia (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). Some of the side effects in females are increased risk of osteoporosis, irreversible deepening of voice, and irreversible increase in body hair (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). In adolescents steroids can stunt their growth by fusing the bones prematurely, and they are likely to injure themselves because they have overdeveloped muscles on an immature frame (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.).
Aside from the physical side effects, there are also psychological side effects that effect most people who use steroids. Some of the side effects are aggression or depression. One form of aggression that users tend to get is called roid rages, which includes psychotic behavior, hostility and irritability (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.). Zaccardi (2003) stated "feelings or irritability and aggression may appear so subtly that the athlete may barley notice, but his friends or family will". Sometimes users will get so depressed that they may have suicidal thoughts (Zaccardi, 2003). This usually occurs after the stoppage of steroids as part of the withdrawal symptoms. Other withdrawal symptoms could be loss of appetite, nausea, insomnia, and headaches (Zaccardi, 2003).
There are a few positive effects from steroids in athletes. Some of these include: Increased strength and effectiveness of training, increased leanness and muscle definition, and increase muscle mass and weight (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). There are some approved uses for anabolic steroids for medical reasons. The FDA has approved them to help with relief of bone pain in patients with osteoporosis, severe anemia, women with metastatic breast cancer, hormone deficiency in males, and hereditary angioedema (Zaccardi, 2003).
There are a few reasons that athletes take steroids. One reason...