Have you ever seen an athlete suddenly performing well over their capacity and then there is a press release that follows, stating they have been banned for using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs? This has become a common phenomenon in the sports world as people have started using such drugs to help them get the win that keeps eluding them.
Steroids were originally developed to treat medical ailments and were categorized into two types anabolic and corticosteroids. While the corticosteroids are used to treat allergies and autoimmune diseases, the anabolic variety is used to treat muscle loss in chronically ill patients.
However the anabolic type is the more famous one as it is also used as a performance improvement drug. These steroids behave like the male sex hormones and promote muscle growth and performance.
How Are They Used
So how are these anabolic steroids used to help improve an individual? It can be taken in the oral form or also injected. They are used in small dosages to help the body improve its performance. As the body gets used to it, the dosage can be increased as per the need. Sometimes a large dosage is also administered just before an event or a competition, so that there can be a peak in the performance.
How Do They Work
When one exercises, they cause some damage to the muscles. The muscles will tear under the pressure exerted on them during workouts and will heal on their own. As these muscles tear and heal, they grow bigger and stronger. The steroids help in speeding up this process, so that the muscle growth is faster and one can train harder. When the healing time is reduced due to these drugs, the time available to exercise is more.
The Psychological Connection
Over a period of time, the body shifts from getting used to this drug to addicted to this drug. This happens when the steroids is used on a regular basis. What starts as a reason to improve performance will become the way of life as the body will grow dependent on it. It will be like any other staple for the body. Without the particular strain of steroid, the body will cease to function normally.
When the dependency increases, it affects the mental and emotional state of the individual. As the body gets used to the good effects of the drug, it craves for more. This is because a human brain wants more of the good feeling and suppress the bad feelings. Over a period of time, without the realization of the individual (in most cases) they get overly dependent on the drug.
When an individual is on steroids, they tend to have mood swings and a change in behavioral patterns. This is because the immediate effect of the drug hitting the blood stream is a surge in energy and adrenaline rush. When they experience this rush, they tend to be more aggressive than they are normally. Also the surge in physical strength will enable them to hit a person much bigger and stronger than them. It is the combination of the physical and mental rush that comes out of using the steroids.
The Negative Side
Using steroids does not produce just positive results. There is a negative side to it too.
When a person injects themselves with a certain strain of steroid, they get the adrenaline rush. Once this rush subsides, they will start experiencing a low feeling, mention the psychological effects of using steroids. This is because when the human brain goes up in a hyper active mode, it eventually comes down when that rush subsides. The body gets tired and so does the mind.
As a result, mood swings are a by-product of any drug abuse. When the steroids are pumped in, the person feels happy, energetic and string and when the rush subsides, they feel sad, gloomy and weak.
Using steroids continuously may keep the individual on the good rush at all times but it is not feasible. This is because the steroids need medical prescriptions and are otherwise also not available in abundance. Hence the price is also not low.
As a result, people who are addicted to these steroids move on to more potent drugs like cocaine and heroin. These are easily available in the illegal drugs market and hence are more accessible. Also, with a little amount of these drugs, one can experience higher rush, thus getting more addicted to it.
Other Psychological Effects
Apart from a high and low mood, the users experience other psychological effects too. Some of them are:
People who use these drugs constantly can be very violent and unpredictable. One can never gauge their mood and when it is safe to approach them. They will react differently at different times of drug use, for the same situation.
One can experience difficulty to sleep properly. As the brain is abused to a constant high and low mood swings, it may not be able to relax fully. As a result one loses sleep. Lack of sleep can result in increased irritability.
Lack of concentration and focus, is another psychological effect such drugs have on a person. As a result one cannot sustain a job or complete a given task, leading to failures in many venues.
When one decides to stop using these steroids, there is more work and effort involved in successfully completing the transition. Getting addicted to the steroids is much easier than stopping their use.
When one stops using any drug they have been addicted to, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Apart from a strong mind and a firm determination one will need the help and support of friends and family, if not professional help.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms include aggression, depression, mood swings, lack of appetite, restlessness, etc. more often than not, heavy drug users will go back to the drugs as they will start experiencing the high feeling. This is why the family and friends involvement is required. This will ensure there are more than one pair of eyes on them to observe their behavior and take action in case of a relapse.
Steroids though developed for medical uses, have been used more for performance related issues. In order to get better results for the short term, people end up getting addicted to tit for the long term.