Performance Enhancing Drugs – The Dangers of ‘Steroids’ and their impact on mental health.
Roids, Juice, PEDs … whatever you choose to call them, they’re an ever present (and sadly growing) substance in sport.
There are sporting bodies and federations that are going to great lengths to ensure that their particular sports are drug free. However, in Powerlifting, there are many ‘untested’ federations that require competitors to ‘honour the integrity of the sport’. But, on a positive note, there are more and more drug tested federations in a lot of bodybuilding and strength sports that are helping quash the roid-heads.
So what? So what if people choose to use PEDs, it’s their choice? And provided they’re not cheating (i.e. not competing in a drug free event) what’s it got to do with anyone else? To a great extent I agree – allow those who are informed of the risks to take those risks. However, there are a lot of individuals who are convinced by the ‘’bro-science’’ of the ultra jacked guy in the gym who ‘’knows what he’s on about’’… chances are, HE DOESN’T!
What are ‘steriods’?
The term ‘steroids’ refers to any synthetic hormone that is created as a pharmaceutical drug in place of a natural hormone that can be created within the body. With regards to Performance Enhancing Drugs, within strength sports, we tend to be talking about testosterone/anabolic steroids. This is article is not intended to delve into the depths of the science behind steroids (I have neither the qualifications nor need to expand on the topic as more information is readily available), but is to inform users/addicts/those interested in starting a course about the dangers, in particular with regards to mental health.
How they impact on mental health
Everyone has a natural hormone level. This, in men, dictates our muscle:fat ratio, hair growth, size, temperament etc. The introduction of excess testosterone manipulates these natural levels. Long term use will alter the ratio of testosterone to oestrogen (the female hormone) causing potentially irreversible effects. Users of testosterone will see an increase in muscle growth, a decrease in fat and a perceived ability to train harder for longer – the reasons they started the use in the first place. However, after finishing a cycle of test’ users will experience the opposite effects – fat gain, breast tissue development, hormone imbalance, increased tiredness, depression and anxiety. Playing with the chemical balance of the body is incredibly dangerous! Most users will not be getting check ups from medical professionals during their use; they won’t be monitoring kidney and liver functions, heart health or the dermatological conditions (the serve acne) that develop. Users are taking a risk by using a class ‘C’ controlled drug (UK) without any expertise or knowledge about how to care for their bodies.
Remember that massive guy in the gym who got you onto the drug? Is he there to care for, look after your mind and body, or was he happy with his payment for the drug and saw you on your way?
Aside from the physiological effects, it is the increased depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, hallucinations (to name a few) that will impact on the lives of abusers. These conditions are serious mental health illnesses which cannot be ignored. These conditions will impact on your everyday life: your ability to work; your relationships; your sex drive. The benefits you once gained from living a healthy and active lifestyle (elevated mood, good skin, positivity, mobility, sociability) will be wholly negated. You may revert to a shell of person you once were … and why have you done all this? To add 20kg to your bench press in 6 weeks? You can add that within a few months of hard and solid training – the same hard training you would have done on the gear anyway! You’re holding more muscle and less fat? Fantastic, but is the visibility of the lower abdominals and obliques really worth what you’ve sacrificed? You came first in a competition … but you cheated … is this all worth it for a podium position?
I’m not here to convert those who are on the gear to come off it – they’ll come off it eventually. I am here, however, to help those who are wanting to rebuild their lives after PED abuse, or stop those who are considering using.
It’s very simple: Don’t swallow a tablet or inject a syringe unless you’ve been told to so by Nurse/Doctor/Physio/Paramedic etc. Its that simple.
Lifting The Stigma doesn’t judge. We’re here to help you at your direction, with the utmost discretion. #keepstong