Anabolic steroids have been one of the forefront issues in bodybuilding and weightlifting since 1954 when Russian Olympic weightlifters were given artificial testosterone in order to improve their performance. (CESAR) Since then bodybuilders have continued to abuse anabolic steroids in order to increase muscle mass. Anabolic steroids function by increasing the amount of testosterone in the body which decreases the amount of time necessary for muscles to recover from a strenuous workout. This allows bodybuilders to work out more in a decreased amount of time. To account for this, different competitions have been created some where contestants are allowed to use anabolic steroids and others where only natural bodybuilding is allowed. There is a large amount of research that has been done on this topic as the science surrounding it has been around since 1935 when German scientists first discovered how to create artificial testosterone. It was in 1956 after Russian Olympic weightlifters were found to be using artificial testosterone to improve performance that American scientists Dr. Zeigler created what is now referred to as anabolic steroids. (CESAR) There is still a large social stigma surrounding the use of anabolic steroids as earlier forms of the steroids had many negative side effects such as mood swings. These side effects have continued to be at the forefront of public discussion of steroids despite the fact that modern forms of steroids have failed to have these side effects. There are several studies that have found the reasons that people can be drawn to steroids and the side effects of modern versions of anabolic steroids.
One of these studies was performed in 2018 by Charlotte W. Greenway and Claire Price. In this particular study Greenway and Price studied the origins and changes in motivation for long term users of anabolic steroids for users in the United Kingdom. Their purpose was to determine the reasons why those who were long term steroid users had started to use the steroids and why they continued to use them. The eight long term users were all interviewed and asked several questions surrounding their use of steroids. These questions ranged from when they started to use steroids, how long they had used steroids, their reasoning behind starting to use steroids, and if they planned to continue using steroids. From these questions, the heads of the study found that overwhelmingly, the main reasons that these men started using steroids was that they had either been uncomfortable with how their body looked or had become frustrated with lack of results from steroid free weight training. In the discussion they discussed how to prevent new users of anabolic steroids. The main point they made was surrounding the industries that drove these individuals to steroids in the first place. As these individuals mainly cited muscular dysphoria (the belief that to make one feel better about one’s body relies in muscle gain and weightlifting) as the main reason for their use, the study cites using the industry to discourage those who suffer from muscular dysphoria from turning to steroids as a solution to their problem. While there is no issue with normal weightlifting and exercise to make one feel better about their own body, it lies in the media portraying men who hold physiques that are impossible for the normal person to obtain as the pinnacle of attractiveness.
Another study that surrounded the use of steroids was carried out in 2013 by Gisella Hanley Santos and Ross Coomber. This study was also performed in the United Kingdom and interviewed participants about why they started using steroids, and their practices with steroids. The particular questions they asked were about ?¬?rst experiences of steroid use; types of steroids and other PIEDs used; motivations; sources of knowledge on steroids and injecting; current using and injecting practices; accessing needles; side effects; accessing steroids; and views on harm reduction strategies (Santos and Coomber 2016). The purpose of this study was to explore pathways into steroid use, motivations behind use and behaviors around steroid use. This study also found that the reasons why individuals began to use steroids varied slightly but mainly revolved around being uncomfortable with their own bodies and/or dissatisfied with the results of standard non-steroid assisted weightlifting. They also found that many of the participants had little to no previous knowledge of steroids before they started to use them. The study also found that several groups of steroid users tended to differentiate themselves from other groups of steroid users. For example, older users of steroid users claimed to have concerns about younger steroid users, believing that they were inexperienced and were misusing steroids, even though they reported that they were using steroids in similar amounts and in the same ways when they themselves began using steroids. This study also outlined methods for preventing new users of anabolic steroids. These methods included creating peer lead interventions for steroid users as well as creating programs that educate potential users about the addictive potential of steroids as well as the negative side effects of using steroids. This study also discussed educating individuals on how to get the results they desire without using steroids such as effective workout methods and dieting.
There have also been many studies performed on the adverse effects of anabolic steroids. One particular study conducted by C. Maravelias et.al. outlined several of these effects. The purpose of their study was to compile an almost complete list of possible adverse effects of the continued misuse of anabolic steroids. One particular instance of what could be considered misuse would be what is known as stacking. Stacking is when users combine several different types of steroids in order to get more results from the use. In order to compile this list, they used several other studies that had been performed on specific types of steroids as well as users who had participated in stacking. In addition to this they also studied individuals who had used steroids over the years and interviewed them on their particular side effects from steroid use. From this study as well as studying results from other studies, they found that there is a wide variety of adverse effects that can occur from steroid use. Some of the main adverse effects surrounded effects on reproductive systems. These included in males decreased reproductive hormones and impotence, in females menstrual irregularities and breast atrophy. These particular effects are due to many popular steroids containing the hormone testosterone. When artificial testosterone is introduced in males, the testicles stop producing testosterone so when steroid use slows down or ceases altogether, the testicles are unable to produce the testosterone which is necessary for many male reproductive systems to function. There are also several adverse effects for the psychological health of steroid users. These psychological effects include mood swings and depression which are also brought on by the increased level of hormones in the body. Users can also experience addiction to steroids which is partially assisted by the muscular increase that users experience when using steroids. The common phenomenon of runners high occurs when working out. After a workout the body releases dopamine which creates feelings of euphoria. This addictive feeling is also paired with the physical results of using steroids while weightlifting. As many of those who use steroids are drawn to use from having muscular dysphoria and a desire to have a better-looking body.
In conclusion, there have been many studies performed surrounding anabolic steroids. Many of these studies have focused solely on the reasons that people are drawn to use steroids in the first place. These studies have all found similar results, which are mainly that the people who are drawn to steroids suffer from some form of muscular dysphoria. Causes for this range from bullying to idolization of normally unobtainable physiques in the media. There have also been extensive studies on the adverse effects of using anabolic steroids. These effects range from decreased function of reproductive systems in both male and female users to psychological effects that include mood swings, depression, and addiction. These adverse effects can almost always be linked to the increased number of hormones that are being artificially pumped into the bodies of steroid users. The negative effects of steroids have been studied since their creation and rise to popularity in the mid 1900s. Despite this, and common public knowledge of the adverse effects of anabolic steroids, there continues to be a widespread use in bodybuilders both professional and amateur who wish to have better results from their weight training. In order to prevent new users of steroids, it has been determined that peer lead support groups need to be implemented where people who have already been active steroid users can warn potential new users of the possible adverse effects of steroids. As well as this these peer lead support groups would be able to offer advice for these weightlifting amateurs so that they can get the results they want in a healthy way that does not involve the potentially harmful use of anabolic steroids. These results are backed up by years of extensive studies that have interviewed users of steroids both amateur and experienced who have given their testimonies as to why they used steroids and ways they believe that potential new users could be prevented from starting to use anabolic steroids.
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