Steroids, also called anabolic-androgenic steroids, or AAS, are synthetic reproductions of the sex hormone testosterone. Though other steroids provide useful medical treatments for people with diseases such as AIDS and cancer, AAS are used illegally by people hoping to enhance exercise abilities and muscle mass. According to the Mayo Clinic, the potential aesthetic benefits of steroids are outweighed by potential dangers. People who choose to inject steroids directly into the muscles for increased results face additional risks.
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Increased Risk for Disease
Injecting steroids may increase a person's risk for serious medical conditions, such as hepatitis and HIV. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, anyone who injects steroids and shared needles with others are at high risk for infections. In many cases, infections caused by injected steroid use requires lifelong medical treatment and may lead to life-threatening complications. Steroids taken orally or through injection also increase a man's risk for prostate cancer, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Steroids, whether through injection or oral supplements, pose numerous physical risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, men and women steroid users may become bald. Since testosterone is a sexual hormone, male steroid users may develop enlarged breasts, shrunken testicles, reduced sperm count and infertility. Women who use steroids may develop an enlarged clitoris, a deepened voice and increased body hair. Both men and woman may develop severe acne. Youth abusing steroids may experience development delays or stunted growth. On the inside of the body, people using steroids risk liver damage and liver tumors. People using steroids may also cause unintentional self-harm, due to emotional side effects.
Steroids can have a dramatic impact on a person's emotional health and moods. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psychiatric dysfunction has been reported by clinicians who treat steroid users. People using steroids may exhibit aggressive emotions and behaviors. They may develop a heightened sense of arrogance and invincibility, which poses risks for violence, accidents and injuries. Steroids may increase feelings of paranoia, irritability and jealousy. While using steroids, a person may experience delusions and reduced ability to judge reality accurately. Risk for mental illnesses, such as depression, also increases with steroid use. The NIDA also describes addiction and dependency as significant steroid-related risk. As a result, users may spend excessive amounts of money on steroids and their interpersonal relationships and work or study obligations may suffer. In addition, steroid abuse may lead to abuse of other drugs, such as opiates.