Anabolic steroids are an artificial form of testosterone, a sex hormone that occurs naturally in men and women, though it is more prevalent in men and is known as the male sex hormone. Anabolic steroids – they are very different from the corticosteroids commonly prescribed by doctors – were originally developed for limited medical purposes, but they have now become a commonly abused drug, especially among athletes and body builders.
People normally take anabolic steroids as a way of growing muscle or improving athletic performance. Regular steroid use can cause dependence and tolerance and can even cause the body to stop naturally producing testosterone. Many users practice “cycling” where they use steroids for a certain period of time and then stop using in order to let their body readjust and recuperate. They may also “stack” steroids with other supplements in an effort to increase their effectiveness.
Steroids can have many negative side effects. One of the most common is severe mood swings, also known as “roid rage,” which can cause a person to become aggressive, violent, and unpredictable. Users also report experiencing agitation, feelings of invincibility, jealousy, and delusions.
Prolonged steroid use can cause permanent, severe damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. It can cause acne and can cause fluid to build up under the skin, giving a bloated appearance. It has an androgenizing effect on women, including irregular menstruation, facial hair growth, male-pattern baldness, enlarged clitoris, and voice change. It can have just the opposite effect on men because it can cause their natural testosterone levels to decrease. In men, steroid use can cause baldness, testicular atrophy, infertility, the growth of breasts, and an increased risk of prostrate cancer.