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Steroid use in medicine and sports has heavily increased since steroids were first invented. “The history of anabolic steroids can be traced back to as early as 1930’s, before the term steroid was even used. In the 1930’s, a team of scientists was able to create a synthetic form of testosterone (a male hormone) to help treat men who were unable to produce enough of the hormone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning” (Center for Substance Abuse Research, 2013, web). Many doctors at that time prescribed steroids to soldiers in order to gain weight and have an overall athletic physique.
After World War II, steroids found their way into sports at the 1956 Olympics where they were especially popular with the Russian athletes. When the Russians were successful in those Olympic games, it was evident that steroids had a huge impact within sports. “After learning that those athletes were using testosterone, an American physician (Dr. Zeigler) created a more selective form of what we know as anabolic steroids” (Center for Substance Abuse Research, 2013, web). Athletes began to take steroids in order to get an edge within their sport. The Olympic Committee finally banned steroids in 1975, but that did not stop athletes from taking steroids in order to get in edge in their sport because penalties were not that severe. It was not until 1988 where, the first major federal regulation of steroids was introduced as part of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act – stiffening penalties for the sale and possession of steroids (Center for Substance Abuse Research, 2013, web).
There are a few ways to take anabolic steroids, but the most common way is to inject one’s self with the drug. One can inject themselves directly into the bloodstream, also known as intravenously, or they can inject themselves directly into the muscle. Either of these two ways gets the drugs into the system the fastest, and will produce almost immediate results with physical exercise. When lifting or working out, the muscles within the body undergo microtears within the muscles causing us to be sore in the following days. The body naturally produces proteins in order to repair the damaged microtears within the muscles, but not at an extremely quick pace (usually between one to two days). When an anabolic steroid is injected, it “travels through the blood stream to the muscle tissue. It is drawn into the muscle cell’s receiving dock, called an androgen receptor. Once delivered to the muscle cell, the steroid can interact with the cell’s DNA and stimulate the protein synthesis process that promotes cell growth” (Peterson, 2009, web).There are pros to taking steroids, such as the athlete has a quicker recovery time after working out. The process mentioned above allows the body to not only recover faster, but it also allows for the muscle tone to grow within the body. Once taken, steroids can also allow the body to stay out of the “fatigue zone” for longer periods of time. This is especially important for endurance athletes because they are able to train and race at a higher intensity for long periods of time. Another pro when taking steroids is the physical appeal.
Many body builders take anabolic steroids to increase the size of their muscles. Most body builders take some form of steroids in order to make themselves look much larger than their bodies would be without the drug. Lastly, athletes take steroids hoping that it will improve their game. Steroids themselves do not actually help improve the skill of the sport, but it does allow the athlete to achieve larger muscles and a quicker recovery time. The athlete will still have to practice in order to get better, but there will be some added bonuses if they take steroids.Well there may be pros of steroids, there is a much longer list of cons when taking the drug. The drug does negatively affect males and females differently. In males, the short-term effects are having a reduced sperm count, damage to the heart, difficulty when urinating, and many other side effects.
In females, their short-term effects include, breast reduction and excessive hair growth all over the body, as well as masculinization effects such as a deeper voice, male musculature, and an excessive hair growth on the face. Some shared short-term effects of steroids include, acne, fluid retention, headaches, swelling of feet and ankles, insomnia, rapid weight gain, and many others. As well as short-term effects of steroids, there are more serious long-term effects for both males and females that include, blood clotting difficulties, heart attacks, cardiovascular and liver damage, premature heart attacks, stunted growth in adolescents, as well as mood changes like depression (Center for Substance Abuse Research, 2013, web). The long-term effects of steroids can cause a premature death in the “healthiest” of athletes. Many steroid related deaths happen to middle aged people, and almost always come by surprise. Most people who take steroids look like they are in incredible shape, however they are in very poor health within their body. Steroids cause a back-up of plaque within the arteries, causing an increased risk of heart diseases and high blood pressure. Most people do not know they have clogged arteries, and eventually have a heart attack before they realize it is too late. As well as physical cons to steroids, there are mental drawbacks from steroid use. Many steroid users become more aggressive on the drugs, causing them to act out of character. This happens so much that they call this aggressive behavior “roid rage”.
Steroids make an already aggressive person even more aggressive to where they act out. Aggressive behavior is not the only psychological behavior that the drugs induce. Depression is a huge side effect of the drug, especially if someone stops taking them. There have been many suicide related deaths from athletes who used steroids once they were off of them. Unfortunately, steroid use is not only found in professional athletes, it is found within hundreds of thousands of high schools across the United States. High school aged steroid users are trying to get recruited to play at big schools in college, or to make the varsity team at their school. This creates major problems because the use of steroids on a developing brain can have major psychological effects for the future. Taylor Hooton, was a seventeen-year-old high school pitcher at Plano West High School. Hooton took steroids in order to excel in his high school baseball career, but soon after Hooton stopped taking steroids, he fell into a deep depression ultimately leading to suicide. His father and mother believed “the suicide stemmed from depression following Taylor’s decision to stop using steroids” (Stiffman, 2013, web).
High school aged kids are a huge buyer of black-market steroids, and the usage is always increasing.In my opinion, one should never consider using steroids. Yes, the benefits are great, but there are far more negatives to outweigh the gains from taking anabolic steroids. There are so many health consequences that would steer me away from even thinking about taking steroids, however I think this is because I am so educated on the topic after writing this paper. Before writing this, I knew that steroids were bad because they were banned from all sports across the world, but I did not know the severe medical effects that came with taking the drugs. In order to keep people away from taking steroids, I think we need to educate the public more on the dangerous and scary side effects that come with taking the drugs. As well as educating the public, I think we need to slap a heavier fine and suspension on the professional players that caught taking anabolic steroids.
Many Americans look up to professional athletes, so I think it is important to punish those who take the drugs to show the general public that even professional athletes get in trouble using the drugs. In many cases with professional baseball players, such as Alex Rodriguez, are allowed back to baseball after they sit out a minimum of sixty-five games. I think it is unfair to keep allowing players back into their sport after three, four or even five times of testing positive for anabolic steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. This shows two things to the youth of America if we allow the players to keep coming back after failing drug tests: it’s okay to do illegal drugs and you have to take them to get to the next level in your sport. Too many famous athletes keep getting away with too much, and I think we need to make the rules stricter in order to discourage the rise in steroids in America’s youth.
Stats show that steroid use is on the rise, and if we do not do anything to stop it, there will be far more consequences than we are seeing right now. If a player is caught with steroids or any other form of anabolic steroid found within their system, they should be slapped with a large fee as well as a more substantial suspension, such as one year. If they are caught again, they should have to pay a larger fine, and should not be allowed back to play. This will discourage professional athletes from taking drugs that they know will help in enhance their play. Athletes should promote how to get to the big leagues by hard work and living a healthy lifestyle, instead of finding a back-door way to get rich and famous. Plenty of athletes have gotten to the highest level of the sport without cheating, but unfortunately, we usually only hear about the athletes that somehow messed up by taking anabolic steroids. Steroids are tarnishing the way many people view certain sports, such as American Baseball because of the heavy involvement of the drugs within the sport. Once the professional athletes clean up their act, more and more people will come back to loving the sport once again, but things need to change first.
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