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Anabolic Steroids Essay, Research Paper
Media’s Portrayal of the Issue
You’ve seen them, and you thought you knew what was going on. The muscle-heads at the gym, the all- star basketball player, the amazing offensive tackle, and the lightning fast track sprinter. Shock waves went through the sports world when Canadian track superstar Ben Johnson was denied his gold medal at the 1988 Olympics after tests showed he had taken anabolic steroids. This incident called international attention to the use of anabolic steroids among world-class athletes to gain competitive advantage.
Still, athletes and non-athletes alike persist in taking them. Teenagers are taking anabolic steroids not just to excel in sports but to enhance their self-images by perfecting their physiques. There are even reports of male adults in physically demanding professions like law enforcement using them to appear tougher and more formidable.
As the drug grows in popularity so does awareness of the serious side effects it may cause. One of the most alarming is the threat of AIDS. HIV-human immuno-deficiency virus-can be transmitted if shared needles are used to inject the drug. But potential harm to physical and psychological health is only one aspect of this troubling trend. The following paper explains the views from several media personnel, doctors, users, and teens concerning various aspects of anabolic steroid use.
The non-medical use of anabolic steroids raises more ethical and moral issues. Engaging in steroid use is illegal. Users are likely to find themselves acquiring these drugs through illicit-and expensive-ways. The heavy demand for anabolic steroids has given rise to the black market, with sales estimated at as much as $400 million a year. Moreover, supplies, which are often illegally manufactured and do not meet established standards, may be contaminated. Athletes who use these drugs are cheating. They gain an unfair advantage over opponents and violate the ban on steroids imposed by most major sports organizations.
As the health risks of anabolic steroids become more apparent, efforts to curtail their use through education, legislation, and medical practices-are intensifying. For those already hooked, kicking the steroids habit is the best chance to escape devastating side effects. For potential users, the solution, of course, is to never take the drug at all. There are other ways to be a winner athletically and socially without harming health and without cheating.
Anabolic Steroids-Valid Medical Uses
Steroids are drugs derived from hormones. Anabolic steroids comprise one group of these hormonal drugs. In certain cases, some may have therapeutic value. The United States and Canada have approved the use of selected anabolic steroids for treating specific types of diseases including: anemia, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Some medical specialists believe that anabolic steroids can improve the appetite and improve healing after surgery.
Anabolic Steroids- definition
Anabolic steroids – belong to a group known as ergogenic, or so-called “performance-enhancing,” drugs. They are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, a natural male hormone. “Anabolic” means growing or building. “Androgen” means “masculinizing” or generating male sexual characteristics. The androgenic characteristics of testosterone are associated with masculinity. They foster the maturing of the male reproductive system in puberty, the growth of body hair and the deepening of the voice. They can affect aggressiveness and sex drive.
Do They Really Work?
Anabolic steroids are designed to mimic the body building traits of testosterone while minimizing its “masculinizing” effects. There are several types, with various combinations of anabolic and androgenic properties. The International Olympics Committee to date has placed 17 anabolic steroids and related compounds on its banned list.
Athletes who have used anabolic steroids-as well as some coaches, trainers, and physicians-do report significant increases in lean muscle mass, strength, and endurance. But no studies show that the substances enhance performance. Anabolic steroids do not improve agility, skill or cardiovascular capacity. Some athletes insist that these substances aid in recovery from injuries, but no hard data exists to support the claim. This quote completely sums up how athletes view the issue of steroids in their competitive sport,
“Athletes would rather confess to
Cocaine use than to steroids use.”
- Dr. Charles E. Yesalis, Pennsylvania State University
Outlawing of Anabolic Steroids
The International Olympics Committee banned steroids use by all athletes in its member associations in 1975. Since then most major amateur and professional organizations have put the drugs on their list of banned substances. They include: National Football League, International Amateur Athletic Federation, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Canadian Olympic Association, International Federation of Body Builders, and many others.
History-Winning through Steroid Use
The drive to compete-and to win-is as old as mankind. Throughout history, athletes have got foods and potions to transform their bodies into powerful, well-tuned machines. The first competitive athletes believed to be charged with “doping taking drugs and other nonfood substances to improve performance were swimmers in Amsterdam in the 1860s. Doping spread to other sports over the next several decades.
Enter Anabolic Steroids
The use of anabolic steroids by athletes is relatively new. Testosterone was first produced in the 1930’s and was introduced into the sporting arena in the 1940’s and 1950’s. When the Russian weightlifting team thanks, in part, to synthetic testosterone-walked off with a pile of medals at the 1952 Olympics, an American physician determined that U. S. competitors should have the same advantage. By 1958 an U.S. pharmacy firm had developed anabolic steroids. Although the physician soon realized the drug had unwanted side effects, it was too late to halt its spread into the sports world. Early users were mainly bodybuilders, weight-lifters, football players, and discus, shot put, or javelin throwers-competitors who relied heavily on bulk and strength. During the 1970’s demand grew as athletes in other sports sought the competitive edge that anabolic steroids seemed to provide. By the 1980’s, as non-athletes also discovered the body-enhancing properties of steroids, a black market began to flourish for the illegal production and sale of the drugs for non-medical purposes.
Who Takes Them-and Why?
Today it is not only the college football player or the professional weight-lifter or the marathon runner who may use anabolic steroids. It may be an 18-year-old who hates his skinny body. Or a 15-year old in a hurry to reach maturity. Or a policeman who wants more muscle power on the job. And the use of anabolic steroids is not confined to males. Professional and amateur female athletes-track and field competitors, swimmers, bodybuilders-feel the pressure to win, too.
The common link among them is the desire to look, perform and feel better at almost any cost. Users-and especially the young deny warnings about health risks. If they see friends growing taller and stronger on steroids, they want the same benefits. They want to believe in the power of the drug.
Use among adult or professional athletes has not been well documented, although evidence clearly supports the suggestion that anabolic steroids have enjoyed popularity among football players, weight lifters, wrestlers, and track and field competitors, among others.
Anabolic steroids are usually taken in pill form. Some that cannot be absorbed orally are taken by injection. The normal prescribed daily dose for medical purposes usually averages between 1 and 5 milligrams. Some athletes, on the other hand, may take up to hundreds of milligrams a day; far exceeding medically recommended dosages. Operating on the more-is-better theory, some athletes indulge in a practice known as “stacking.” They take many types of steroids, sometimes in combination with other drugs such as stimulants, depressants, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and other hormones.
Many users “cycle,” taking the drugs for 6 to 12 weeks or more, stopping for several weeks and then starting another cycle. They may do this in the belief that by scheduling their steroid intake, they can manipulate test results and escape detection. It is not uncommon for athletes to cycle over a period of months or even years.
Although controlled studies on the long-term outcome of mega-dosing with anabolic steroids have not been conducted, extensive research on prescribed doses for medical use have documented the potential side effects of the drug, even when taken in small doses. Moreover, reports by athletes, and observations of attending physicians, parents, and coaches do offer substantial evidence of dangerous side effects. Some effects, such as rapid weight gain, are easy to see. Some take place internally and may not be evident until it is too late. Some are irreversible.
The Dangers in Men
Males who take large doses of anabolic steroids typically experience changes in sexual characteristics. Although derived from a male sex hormone, the drug can trigger a mechanism in the body that can actually shut down the healthy part of the male reproductive system. Some possible side effects: shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, baldness, difficulty or pain in urinating, development of breasts, and enlarged prostate.
The Dangers in Women
Females may experience “masculinization” as well as other problems: growth of facial hair, changes in or of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, and breast reduction.
Dangers in Both Sexes
For both males and females, continued use of anabolic steroids may lead to health conditions ranging from merely irritating to life-threatening. Some effects are: acne, jaundice, trembling, reduction in HDL- the “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver damage and cancers, aching joints, and, increased chance of injury to tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
AIDS- Is there a threat?
People sometimes take injections of anabolic steroids to eliminate oral dosages, using large-gauge, reusable needles normally obtained through the black market. If needles are shared, users run the risk of transmitting or contracting the HIV infection that can lead to AIDS.
The Psychological Effects
Scientists are just beginning to investigate the impact of anabolic steroids on the mind and behavior. Many athletes report “feeling good” about themselves while on a steroid kick . The downside is wide mood swings ranging from periods of violent, even homicidal, episodes known as “roid rages”, to bouts of depression when the drugs are stopped.
Are Anabolic Steroids Addictive?
Evidence that doses of anabolic steroids can affect the brain and produce mental changes in users poses serious questions about possible addiction to the drugs. While investigations continue, long-term steroid users do experience many of the characteristics of classic addiction: cravings, difficulty in stopping steroid use and withdrawal symptoms. Certain delusional behavior that is characteristic of addiction can occur. Some athletes who “bulk up” on anabolic steroids are unaware of body changes that are obvious to others.
Anabolic steroids may have a reputation for turning a wimp into a winner but the truth is that it takes a lot more to be a star athlete. Athletic prowess depends not only on strength and endurance, but also on skill. It also depends on diet, rest, overall mental and physical health, and genes. Athletic excellence can be, and is, achieved by millions without reliance on dangerous drugs.
The major national and international sports associations enforce their ban against anabolic steroids by periodic testing. Testing, however, is controversial. Some observer’s say the tests are not reliable, and even the International Olympic Committees tests, considered to be the most accurate, have been challenged. Despite the problems, testing remains an important way of monitoring and controlling the abuse of steroids among athletes. Efforts are underway to make testing more accurate.
Treatment programs for steroid abusers are just now being developed as more is learned about the habit. Medical specialists do find persuasion is an important weapon is getting the user off the drug. They attempt to present medical evidence of the damage anabolic steroids can do to the body. One specialist notes that medical tests, such as those that show a lowered sperm count, can motivate male athletes to cease usage. Also by people and society introducing non-steroids alternatives that will maintain body fitness as well as self-esteem.
Our National government have enacted laws and regulations to control anabolic steroids abuse. They have made the distribution or possession of anabolic steroids for non-medical reasons an extreme offense.
Prevention is the best solution to stopping the growing abuse of anabolic steroids. The time to educate youngsters is before they become users. Efforts must not stop there, however. Current users, as well as coaches, trainers, parents, and medical doctors need to know about the hazards of anabolic steroids. The young need to understand that they are not immortal and that the drugs can harm them. The message needs to be backed up by accurate information and spread by responsible, respected individuals such as doctors and athletes.
“I just wanted to boost my performance”. Those are the words spoken by numerous athletes who have been captured using steroids. As you have witnessed in my report steroids in the past three decades have become a serious problem more than ever in the athletic field. The media has portrayed steroids, as a drug used mostly by athletes and muscle heads, however, as you have read this is not the case. Society needs to become more aware of the problem at hand and create solutions alike the one’s above to solve this increasing problem. Also more importantly, the media by way of television, print, and other forms of publicity type, should recognize that steroids are not only an athletic or muscle building drug. By doing this we would be more educated and people would recognize and prevent the problem.
American College of Sports Medicine, “Position Stand on The Use of
Anabolic/Androgenic Steroids in Sports, ” 1984.
American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine, “Policy Statement and
Position Paper: Anabolic/ Androgenic Steroids and Substance Abuse in Sport,”
Silverstein, Alvin, Steroids- “Big Muscles, Big Problems” 1994
Hecht, A., Anabolic Steroids “Pumping Trouble,” September 1984.
International Federation of Bodybuilders, “The Battle Against Steroids Goes On:
Article in I.F.B” 1990.
Kennedy, N., “Steroid Studies: Estimated Percentages of Use,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1990.
Miller, R.W., “Athletes and Steroids: Playing a Deadly Game”, November 1987.
Yestault, Charles, Anabolic Steroids, “Health Aspects and Doping in Sports”. 1993
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