Why do I no longer judge people who choose to use AAS? Its because I have gained perspective.
Think of alcohol. Its legal, and its socially acceptable. And yet, it kills. It causes car crashes, disease, divorce, unsafe sex, unwanted sex, spousal and child abuse, karaoke_ a lot of awful stuff comes from drinking.
The potential negative effects of AAS on society as a whole is a rounding error compared to what booze does, so I wont judge. I recommend that you avoid them from a health perspective (as well as a legal one), but I won’t condemn anyone who chooses to ignore this advice. (This does not apply when use is considered cheating to win a contest of any type. Im also not a fan of people who claim to be clean yet are not.) Just make an informed decision and try to be safe.
Are you at risk?
On a per capita basis, professional bodybuilders are more likely to take illegal anabolic steroids than anyone else. However, in terms of the largest overall number of anabolic steroid users, it is guys like you and me. In other words, people who lift and want to build muscle, even though we have no intention of ever posing on a stage all waxed, oily, faked tanned, dehydrated and Speedo-ed.
A 2006 study of 500 anabolic steroid users found that 78.4% were not athletes and not competitive bodybuilders, but just regular guys taking them for cosmetic reasons. More than 99% self-injected, almost 13% of all 500 reported unsafe injection practices, and 99.2% reported experiencing side effects from the drugs.
In other words, the biggest market for illegal steroids is your typical gym guy who wants to get more muscular and who’s willing to risk his health and break the law to do it. This is why you should be afraid. But the point of this piece is neither the legal consequences nor the potential health risks. I want to find the answer to a question thats rarely asked.
Can you really get addicted to steroids?
I wont lie. I wont tell you that you dont need anabolic steroids to get truly huge. Truthfully, you can only get so big without them. Creatine works to a degree, but if you want to get significantly bigger, then this can only be done with the juice. So if you decide steroids are not for you, youll just have to settle for not being huge.
The fact remains that steroids work, adding significant muscle mass and strength. Maybe a couple of years down the road you hit a natural plateau and decide to try the juice to get a bit bigger. I would imagine that most first-time users plan on doing it just a little bit, for just a little while.
Anabolic steroids can help you get bigger and stronger in a short period of time. They make you feel powerful and aggressive — almost unstoppable. When you cease taking them (called cycling off), these effects begin to go away. This is compounded by the fact that your natural testosterone production is decreased from taking AAS. The added muscle size and strength from taking anabolic steroids starts to fade as well when the user stops injecting.
This is where the possibility of addiction comes in. Note that this is not so much about a physiological addiction like with alcohol, opiates or nicotine. This is largely a psychological addiction.
See, many guys like size and strength AAS gives them, along with that bad-ass and powerful way it makes them feel, and they dont like it when these things go away. What started out as experimentation can turn into chronic usage.
In 2004 Dutch researchers published a study in Sports Medicine (PDF) that looked at the question of addictive properties of AAS. They found some research suggesting that, _more than half of the AAS users demonstrated symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of dependence. A later study asserted the figure was closer to 25%. The authors reported that, Risk factors for dependency on AAS involve a perception of oneself as not being big or strong enough (what some call bigorexia) and long-term abuse of high doses of AAS. They did report that withdrawal effects were rare, however.
In 2006 the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a research report on AAS abuse where they reported that there is evidence for addiction because people continue to use them despite experiencing negative health consequences. Mind you, you could say the same thing about cupcakes and Hot Pockets. However, there are negative social consequences as well. Whats more, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. And although the Sports Medicine study stated withdrawal effects were rare, NIDA said such effects include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, reduced sex drive, and cravings for steroids. Most concerning was a possibility of depression, out of fear that it could lead to suicide attempts.
If youd like a personal anecdote about steroid addiction, read this mans story.
Chances are you arent even considering anabolic steroids, but the day may come when you are tempted.
My advice to you is simple: Resist.