My mate thought introducing me to steroids would help. He couldn't have been more wrong.
I was never happy with second place. At twenty-one, I trained every day at the gym, giving my all to compete in weekly bodybuilding competitions. With every second place ribbon, my self-confidence depleted.
It was at my lowest that I began taking steroids.
It started great! My muscles grew, became stronger and denser. My voice deepened. I even developed chest hair for the first time. Five weeks into my treatment, I won first place in a state competition!
For two years, I took steroids and watched myself strengthen every day. However, over time, my bodybuilding career became the only positive aspect of my life.
My face and back broke out in severe acne, and I fell into a deep depression with mood swings and violent bursts of anger. After noticing a yellow complexion to my skin, I went to the doctor. My liver was failing, and my blood pressure was through the roof.
I wanted to stop taking them, but I just couldn’t.
Two months into rehab, I began sleeping regularly again, and I was able to reconnect with my family and friends. Bodybuilding is still a sport I enjoy, but now I'm looking after both my mind and my body.
So what’s the appeal?
Anabolic steroids are common, especially among male bodybuilders because they imitate the effects of naturally occurring hormones. With similar chemical properties found in testosterone, anabolic steroids a range of produce symptoms including:
- Increased muscle strength
- Conserved bone density
- Improved injury recovery.
Steroids are illegal for a reason. There are many more negative effects than there are positives. These include:
- Damage to gonads (testicles and ovaries)
- Impairment of liver, kidney, or heart
- ‘Roid rage’ – aggressive behaviour
- Mood swings
- Fluid retention
- Muscle tremors
- Severe acne
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Stunted growth in adolescents
- Injured tendons.
Most people take steroids for their anabolic effects – rapid muscle development as well as other masculine attributes such as facial hair. But they affect men and women differently.
- Breast development
- Decreased sperm count
- Painful erections
- Shrinking of testicles
- Facial and body hair
- Breast reduction
- Deepening of voices
- Menstrual irregularities
- Enlarged clitoris.
The dangers of addiction
Even though steroids don’t produce a chemical ‘high,’ they can be a highly addictive substance. Once users have witnessed the significant changes to their muscle density, they may find it very difficult to stop taking the drug.
The continuous use of steroids and the need to seek them out constantly is the first sign of steroid addiction. Once users have reached their initial goal or muscle mass, they may continue using in an attempt to ‘improve.’ This is particularly common in users with body dysmorphic disorder.
The second sign of addiction is withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Low sex drive
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
Other signs of addiction are:
- The continual use of the drug despite adverse side effects
- Spending large amounts of money on steroids
- Disregarding work and home responsibilities.
The unnatural misbalance of hormones in a users body can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. When deciding to stop taking steroids, users should seek professional help to achieve the best results possible.
It’s never too late to live your life the way you want. Follow your dreams and keep both your mind and body healthy.