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The following is a statement from the National Institute of Drug Abuse concerning anabolic steroids:
"An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs."http://www.medicinenet.com/anabolic_steroid_abuse/page3.htm
Anabolic Steroid may exert a profound adverse effect on the liver.Treatment with anabolic steroids resulted in a decreased hepatic excretory function. In addition, intra hepatic cholestasis, reflected by itch and jaundice, and hepatic peliosis were observed. Hepatic peliosis is a hemorrhagic cystic degeneration of the liver, which may lead to fibrosis and portal hypertension. Rupture of a cyst may lead to fatal bleeding.
Anabolic Steroids and the Male Reproductive System
AS are derivatives of testosterone, which has strong genitotropic effects. For this reason, it will not be surprising that side effects include the reproductive system. Application of anabolic steroids leads to supra-physiological concentrations of testosterone or testosterone derivatives. Via the feed back loop, the production and release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulation hormone (FSH) is decreased.
Prolonged use of anabolic steroids in relatively high doses will lead to hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism, with decreased serum concentrations of LH, FSH, and testosterone.A moderate decrease of gonadotropin secretion causes atrophy of the testes, as well as a decrease of sperm cell production. AS, resulting in a decreased fertility.
Anabolic Steroids and the Female Reproductive System
In the normal female body small amounts of testosterone are produced, and as in males, artificially increasing levels by administration of AS will affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. An increase in circulating androgens will inhibit the production and release of LH and FSH, resulting in a decline in serum levels of LH, FSH, estrogens and progesterone. This may result in inhibition of follicle formation, ovulation, and irregularities of the menstrual cycle. The irregularities of the menstrual cycle are characterized by a prolongation of the follicular phase, shortening of the luteal phase or amenorrhea.Additional side effects of anabolic steroids specifically in women are acne, hair loss, withdrawal of the frontal hair line, male pattern boldness, lowering of the voice, increased facial hair growth, and breast atrophy. The lowering of the voice, decreased breast size, clitoris hypertrophy and hair loss are generally irreversible. Females using AS may develop masculine facial traits, male muscularity, and coarsening of the skin.
Serum Lipoproteins and the Cardiovascular System
AS also affect the cardiovascular system and the serum lipid
anabolic steroid use total cholesterol tends to increase, while
HDL-cholesterol demonstrates a marked decline, well below the normal
range. Serum LDL-cholesterol shows a variable response: a slight
increase or no change. The response of total cholesterol seems to be
influenced by the type of training that is done by the athlete. When
a great deal of the exercise consists of aerobic exercise, the
increasing effect of AS is counterbalanced by an exercise-induced
increasing effect, which may result in a net decline in total
cholesterol. Aerobic training does not seem to be able to offset the
steroid-induced decline in HDL-cholesterol and its subfractions
HDL-2, and HDL-3.
Administration of AS may affect behavior. Increased testosterone levels in the blood are associated with masculine behavior, aggressiveness and increased sexual desire. Increased aggressiveness may be beneficial for athletic training, but may also lead to overt violence outside the gym or the track. There are reports of violent, criminal behavior in individuals taking AS. Other side effects of AS are euphoria, confusion, sleeping disorders, pathological anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Anabolic steroid users may become dependent on the drug, with symptoms of withdrawal after cessation of drug use. The withdrawal symptoms consist of aggressive and violent behavior, mental depression with suicidal behavior, mood changes, and in some cases acute psychosis. At present it is unknown which individuals are particularly at risk. It is likely that great individual differences in responsiveness may exist. Some individuals try to minimize the withdrawal affects by administration of human choriogonadotropins (hCG), in order to enhance endogenous testosterone production. However, it is unknown in how far the hCG administration is successful in ameliorating the withdrawal effects.
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