Steroids are the popular terms used to describe synthetic compounds that are closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone.

Anabolics were first synthesized in the late 1930s to treat a condition called hypogonadism, in which the testes do not produce sufficient levels of testosterone. Low levels of testosterone lead to improper physical development and low sexual desire in males. The primary medical uses of these drugs are to treat delayed puberty in teenaged males, impotence, and to treat such wasting diseases as cancer and AIDS.

It was during 1930s, that scientists discovered that steroids could increase the growth of skeletal muscle in laboratory animals. Once word of these effects reached the athletic community it wasn’t long before bodybuilders, weightlifters and athletes in other power sports began using them in their cycles. The use of these powerful drugs is so widespread in athletics that it routinely affects competition results.

To date more than 100 different anabolic steroids have been created and each year scientists add to the inventory. Because of current legislation these drugs are only legally available by prescription in the United States. But this hasn’t stopped users from obtaining the drugs on the black-market; most of which are smuggled in from Mexico and Europe. There is also a thriving practice of diverting the drugs from the inventories of U.S. pharmacies, or manufacturing them in clandestine basement laboratories.

Why use steroids?

There are numerous reasons why people use these powerful drugs. Competitive bodybuilders use them to build large amounts of striated muscle mass. Virtually all pro bodybuilders use these drugs and a high percentage of amateurs do as well. In such sports as sprinting, bobsledding, and the shot-put, these drugs will give the user much more explosive power. Even though Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson is the most famous sprinter to have tested positive for steroids, it is estimated that over 90 percent of sprinters in the Olympics use performance-enhancing drugs. And it’s not just limited to men either. The great Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, would not be able to win a women’s race today.

The largest group of people who use these drugs are not athletes, however. Most people who hit the “juice” are only taking them to increase their muscle size and/or to reduce their body fat percentages. In other words they are using the drugs to look better. Ask most guys why they are bodybuilding and they will say because they want to look better for getting girls. They have no intentions of trying to make the Olympics or win the Mr. Olympia. They just want to build a better-looking body.

There is also an internal reason for many people to try steroids. Many times people turn to these drugs because they are competing against themselves. They’ve reached a point where bench pressing 300 pounds or weighing 220 pounds is not enough. They want to bench 400 or weigh 250 pounds of ripped muscle. After setting goals for themselves and slaving away for years they reach a point where they either accept the results they’ve achieved or turn to steroids. Most people will accept what they’ve accomplished without drugs. They may try some of the natural steroid alternatives that are available, but they usually don’t succumb to the risks of the drugs.

Delivery methods – Getting them in there!

There are three routes of administration for steroids, oral, intramuscular, and transdermal. Oral steroids are swallowed as pills and while the easiest to take, have the most side effects. This is because the drugs have been chemically modified to survive their passage through the harsh environment of the digestive system. Unfortunately this chemical modification makes the drugs harder on the liver.

As the name suggests, intramuscular means injecting into a muscle. Although sticking a needle into the body sounds gruesome, it’s not that difficult or dangerous provided the person uses some good common sense. Millions of children do it every day with insulin injections for diabetes. Injectable drugs are considered safer because they don’t need to be chemically modified to survive the digestive system. They go straight into the blood stream.

The third category of delivery is called transdermal. This means a patch, gel or cream containing the drug is applied to the skin and the drug seeps through the skin into the blood stream. As with injectables, transdermal drugs are considered safer than orals.

Use and abuse!

Bodybuilders have a reputation for throwing caution to the wind, whether it is training, eating, or their social behavior. Steroid use is no different. Some bodybuilders abuse the drugs and take anywhere from 10 to 100 times the recommended medical dosage. They also typically “stack” the drugs, meaning that they use two or more different drugs all at once. They may be all the same type (i.e. all orals or injectables) or a combination of all three types. They may also use steroids that are only intended for veterinary use.

The purpose of stacking is to get what bodybuilders call the “synergetic effect.” The theory is that taking multiple drugs all at once produces more size and strength gains than taking the drugs individually; and while not verified scientifically, bodybuilders swear it happens

Pyramiding – not just for Egyptians!

Besides stacking, users also “pyramid” their doses in cycles of 6 to 12 weeks. For example at the start of a cycle, the person starts with low doses of the drugs being used and then slowly increases the doses on a weekly basis up to the midpoint. Then at the halfway point of the cycle, the dosages are slowly decreased back to low amounts or zero. Bodybuilders believe that pyramiding allows the body time to adjust to the high doses and reduces the risk of side effects. For bodybuilders and other athletes in drug- tested sports, pyramiding gives users a better chance of passing the test. The theory is that by decreasing the dosage over time, there will not be enough drug or drug metabolites (breakdown products of the original drug) remaining in the person’s system to be detected.

It’s your choice but be informed!

The decision to use steroids is ultimately yours and yours alone. But before you start meeting some dealer in a back alley, make sure you have all the facts. Are you familiar with steroid legislation? Does your state prosecute bodybuilders on a regular basis? Do you have pre-existing problems that may increase your chances of developing severe side effects? Do you compete in sports with drug tests? The information on these pages has been created by experts to increase your knowledge about steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Use it wisely. Be informed. Be knowledgeable!

Source by Bob Howard

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