It seems that as drug trends have continued to evolve over time, each decade has brought waves of new addictions or seen the reemergence of old ones. More than a hundred years ago, opium was all the rage, especially in Europe where even society’s elite could be found indulging in one of several opium houses that speckled the urban underground.
Over the course of the twentieth century, marijuana became incredibly popular, followed by hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, cocaine, and now opioids like heroin and painkillers. Each drug is dangerous in its own way, affording its own unique brand of intoxication at the risk of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social effects.
To see which drugs are sweeping through the nation like wildfire, one must only look to the headlines of major newspapers. In addition to the recent reports concerning the heroin pandemic that we find ourselves in worldwide, there have been sporadic reports concerning the popularity and use of steroids.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the freshest news as society has been battling steroids for several decades. Most common among males, athletes, and especially professional athletes, steroids have been used as a means of performance enhancement and, due to the unfair advantage had by those who use steroids, have been the topic of much legislature over the past several decades.
Despite the illegality of steroid use, news reports have indicated that the prohibited use of steroids is as high as ever. In order to understand the danger associated with steroid addiction and recent trends, we must first get an idea of what steroids actually are.
What Exactly are Steroids?
In short, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS)—typically referred to simply as steroids—are a synthetic form of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Steroids produce a number of specific effects in the body, beginning with an increase in proteins in cells, especially cells of skeletal muscles, that results in the stimulation of lean mass and appetite increases, rapid muscular gains, and a marked increase in strength.
Additionally, steroids have been known to stimulate the growth of vocal cords, testicles, and to stimulate the growth of additional body hair, many of which are characteristics of puberty in males that steroids are designed to simulate. These effects are reflected in the name; “anabolic” refers to to muscle-building and “androgenic” refers to an increase in masculine sexual traits.
Steroids were first synthesized in the 1930s and were originally intended to treat a variety of health conditions and hormone deficiencies. Some of the therapeutic uses for steroids include:
- Stimulating puberty in so-called “late bloomers”.
- Treating disease that resulting in deterioration or loss of muscle density and lean muscle mass such as AIDS and cancer.
- Bone marrow stimulation as a result of leukemia or kidney failure.
- Hormone replacement for men with abnormally low levels of testosterone.
- Treatment of low libido in elderly males.
- A form of male contraception.
In more recent years, steroids—which can come in the form of oral pills, injectable solutions, and even topical applications—have been given to those suffering from gender dysphoria as part of the transformation process due to the ability of steroids to mimic male puberty, such as stimulating growth of body and facial hair, increasing muscle and bone mass, deepening of the voice, increased levels of red blood cells, genital enlargement, and so on.
However, steroid addiction and abuse has been associated with a number of side effects, which include but aren’t limited to the following: marked increases in aggression and violence, damage to the immune system, elevated blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular and coronary artery diseases, acne, premature baldness, stunted bone growth, structural abnormalities in the heart, gynecomastia, shrinking of the testicles, kidney damage, and other unpleasant effects.
Anabolic Steroid Abuse and Addiction in the United States
Despite the therapeutic applications for steroids, they are most known for their ability to increase body mass, for which they are often used illicitly. They’re known to be commonly used by a variety of athletes although somewhat recent studies suggest that the majority of steroid users are not actually professional athletes. Estimates of steroid abuse have put the figure between one million and three million individuals who have abused steroids in the United States, or about 1 percent of the United States population.
Typically, those who abuse steroids are most commonly middle-class heterosexual males with a median age of 25. These individuals tend to be noncompetitive bodybuilders and non-athletes who use steroids for cosmetic purposes due to the fact that it offers rapid muscle gain.
There are users of steroids in all corners of the demographic spectrum, but there are several groups considered most at risk of and susceptible to steroid use. There have been widespread reports on steroid use in professional sports, especially in professional baseball, with a Florida man named Anthony Bosch arrested last year and pleading guilty to supplying steroids to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.
What’s more, several other members of the team—whose names were omitted from court records—had been disciplined for using steroids, a problem that’s been publicized among many other professional baseball players. Bosch also admitted to selling steroids to Florida high school-age athletes, which is another demographic that’s seen a spike in recent steroid addiction.
South Florida is widely considered to be the land of beach bodies with there being more individuals on the streets with enviable physiques than without. As a result, there’s been another surge of recent steroid addiction in the state of Florida who would rather use steroids as a quick-fix that gives them more bang for their effort’s buck.
In fact, it steroid use has become so widespread in Florida that mere possession of illicit steroids can result in a felony charge and up to five years in prison. Despite the severity of the consequences, steroid use is still incredibly common in Florida. It’s so common that most Florida high schools will test athletes for steroid use due to the vast numbers of teens who have turned to steroid use as a way to bulk up.
Are You a Steroid Addict? Start Your Recovery Today
Although steroids are somewhat different than other drugs and tend to be used for different reasons, those who use and abuse steroids have reported that the drug makes them feel good, particularly on a psychological level as they feel better about themselves and especially their bodies. This is considered to be a result of the changes to their appearances as the steroids cause their body to look how they had wanted their body to look, resulting in a boost in confidence, self-image, and self-worth.
However, it may go a bit deeper than that as there is an addictive aspect to steroids as well. When those who have been abusing steroids suddenly and abruptly stop, they often experience depressions, insomnia, and severe cravings, indicating that these individuals have developed a dependency on steroids that will require treatment.
If you or someone you love is dependent on steroids or any other substance, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Our recovery specialists have guided countless addicts toward a life of health, sobriety, and fulfillment. Don’t become another casualty of steroid addiction—call us today.