Anabolic steroids are drugs that help the growth and repair of muscle tissue. They are synthetic hormones that imitate male sex hormones, specifically testosterone. They can also help people reduce fat and recover quicker from injury. They are classed as performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) and these substances are taken by people with the intention of improving their physical appearance or enhancing their sporting performance.
Corticosteroids are a class of drug used to treat inflammatory arthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as asthma. They are commonly referred to as “steroids,” and people often believe them to be the same thing as anabolic steroids.
Anabolic Steroids can be injected or taken as a tablet.
Steroids work by imitating the properties of naturally occurring hormones. They have a similar chemical make up to testosterone and are able to activate testosterone receptors. Once the receptors are stimulated, a domino effect of metabolic reactions takes place as the drug instructs the body to increase muscle tissue production.
Steroids are typically taken over a six to 12 week period. This is followed by a break of the same length to prevent muscle cells shutting down in the long term and is known as cycling. Different steroids are often combined in a process known as stacking. This is done to achieve effects such as increasing muscle mass, making it leaner and getting greater muscle definition (known as cutting).
Generally speaking, people who use steroids experience an increase in muscle strength very quickly. This means that people are able to train more often and for longer periods of time, with improved recovery. This can lead to a rapid increases in lean muscle tissue but fluid retention is common and can lead to muscles looking soft or bloated. People may use steroids in what they believe to be a healthy lifestyle context.
They may not see themselves as injecting drug users. However, there are risks associated with using steroids without a prescription or medical supervision, even as part of a fitness training program. In the worst case, long-term heavy steroid use can lead to heart attack, stroke and death, especially among men aged in their early 30s who combine steroids with stimulant drugs, such as speed and ecstasy. Anabolic steroids can also take a toll on personal relationships as they can cause mood swings, a higher sex drive and, in extreme cases, violent behaviour, especially when combined with alcohol. They can ruin sporting careers, with positive tests potentially resulting in fines, suspensions and bans from competitive sports. On a more superficial level, steroids can lead to premature baldness in men.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk.
The effects of taking Steroids with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous.