It’s amazing what athletes will do to achieve higher levels of performance and to get an edge on the rivaled competition. Often people do not realize the long-term effects that result from the decisions they make early in life. This resembles the obvious phenomenon with steroids. Steroids became a spreading exposure to athletes in the Olympics and other major sporting events during the 1950’s. This use of steroids among athletes became apparent when Canadian sprint runner Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use after winning the gold medal for the 100-meter dash during the 1988 Olympics. Now a skinny fifteen year old can just walk down to the local gym and find sellers to obtain the drug that will make him the idol of all his classmates. Being such an attractive drug, as shown in the analogy above, and seeming harmless to the unaware user, steroids can have a potentially jeopardous effect. Consistently, users, new and experienced, have no knowledge to the dangerous consequences’ steroids can have on their minds and bodies. Although steroids cause minimal deaths in our society, banning of steroids is purely justified because steroids have extremely perilous side effects on the unsuspecting user.
Though steroids are known as a somewhat dangerous substance, they are legal to possess and consume, and there has not been a true clinical study that proves such possible side effects are linked to medical problems of steroid users. Sure, there have been several cases where someone has died and an autopsy showed the person was using steroids, but this does not mean they are a lethal drug as some medical professionals have stated. Some advocates believe that because steroids are legal, and since it’s the decision of the user to take the drug, steroids are not causing a problem in society. Millions, causing deteriorating effects on their bodies, consume alcohol and cigarettes but there has never been a protest to put a ban on the items because of their harmful nature. So how are steroids any different? Some people may state that the wide spread use of steroids among athletes is forcing young upcoming athletes to use steroids, even though it’s against their morals. This is because they know they can not compete adequately against their opponents who are using steroids to achieve higher levels of performance. One might say this is how competition works though. Race car drivers and gymnasts are out there every day, pushing themselves harder and harder, going just a little faster, or doing a new, more difficult trick. Many believe they are forced by their own desire to win, and the hazardous risks they take, be it taking a corner a little faster or pulling an extra flip in a routine, are no different than the risks a football player, wrestler, or weight lifter takes when they choose to use steroids to increase their skills. Many believe these reasons make steroid abuse morally justified, and say their use in sports and other activities are just an added element in boosting performance.
It is true, there has not been any defined medical research to prove steroid abuse is linked to severe medical implications, but words of warning from chronic users dealing with massive medical difficulties they believe were a result of steroid abuse is just cause to prove the harmful effects of steroids. Alcohol and cigarettes are major contributors to the deaths of thousands each year. Frequently we see a family member, or friend, suffering from diseases and health conditions caused by smoking and drinking. These conditions can often lead to an early, horrible death for the individual. Many find these experiences an obstantial reason to not drink and smoke. In a similar situation, young athletes see their former athletic idols suffering from medical problems caused by steroids. These professionals will even admit to their former steroid abuse in hopes to persuade the thousands of young athletes participating in steroid abuse each day. I find it hard to reason how young athletes can simply ignore the warnings of these suffering abusers. This can partly be blamed on the lack of education about steroids a young athlete will receive. Nevertheless, when they see the effects steroids have in the long run on such professional athletes as Lyle Alzado, they should realize the need to give up their abuse, even if they must sacrifice the chance to win that gold medal, or give up that buff body they always dreamed of. If an abuser was to listen to what a former addict has gone through, and possibly died from, he may be persuaded to give up his addiction, and in the end, he will find himself at an advantage because he will live a longer, healthier life.
In addition, the severe physiological and psychological dependencies caused by steroids are consistent among the underground of ripping steroid users, causing personal problems with the user as well as family and friends of the user. Once a young abuser achieves the chiseled physique he always dreamed of, there is no turning back. It would only be his worst nightmare to give up steroids and relapse to the scrawny little body he had before his steroid use. An athlete that learns the performance advantages he gains from steroids will, in a short time, become use to the edge he has obtained, and will soon be craving more. For him to simply drop his addiction cold turkey, and go back to being second best, is not even an option anymore. These addictions, as with most addictions, will cause the user to lose interest in friends and family, concentrating only on enhancements to his physique and athletic performance (Hemme, pg 58). Even worse, the drug can cause will known “road rages” (Voy, pg. 223). This involves the spontaneous acts of violence and abuse towards anyone a user comes intact with. This is usually a worse scenario with non-athletic steroid abusers because athletes such as football players can release a good share of their rage on the playing field. Some sever addictions can include symptoms such as increased libido, sexual perversion, and psychotic episodes (Voy, pg. 223). Because of severe symptoms of steroid addiction, it is an effective measure of the abuser’s family and friends to take necessary action in order to help an abuser with his addiction.
Adolescent steroid abusers can also experience complex physiological, and psychological problems, some of which result in permanent effects. For some reason a widespread use of these so called “natural drugs” has become apparent among the teenage age group in the last four to five years. They seem to believe such drugs as marijuana and steroids do not have damaging effects on their bodies because they are natural substances. Just because marijuana comes from a plant found in nature, or the suddenly popular hallucinogenic mushrooms found in farm pastures that grow naturally, does not mean they are not going to have harmful effects on the body. These substances’s teenagers’ use is a toxin produced by the plants to keep animals, and humans, from eating them. Though steroids are a form of the natural male hormone testosterone, they are far higher in concentration then what are bodies produce naturally. This high concentration is no doubt toxic to our bodies, and can result in harmful side effects. At an early age, anything such as drugs is going to have an increased effect. Most teenagers are unaware of these enhanced effects that steroids have on them, thus making the drug increasingly dangerous. The massive doses, medical experts say, not only affect the muscles but also sex organs and nervous system including the brain (Schrof, pg. 235). Neil Carolan warns us, “Even a brief period of abuse on a child whose body and brain chemistry are still developing is extremely harmful and possibly permanent.” The deaths related to steroids of several high school athletes each year is more than adequate cause to ban steroids. Consequently, if professional athletes are taking steroids, then a young high school athlete may go under the misconception that steroids are harmless. Indeed it would serve well for high school PE instructors to teach their students about the effects of steroids and the ethics involved. Often parents discover their child’s steroid abuse and become shocked, but with the constant push a child receives to excel in sports and not having the teaching needed to know the effects and dangers of steroids, it is not the child’s failure, but society is to blame.
With competition becoming more and more aggressive among women’s athletics, it is not uncommon to find many of the women athletes harming their bodies with the use of steroids. This is a scary situation because, as we know, steroids are a form of the male hormone testosterone and are not suited for a woman. Women do have a similar, but different hormone called estrogen released naturally in their bodies. The massive doses of steroids that women will take when they are “cycling” on steroids will have many dangerous side effects (Hemme, pg. 158). Some of these side effects are unknown and the long-term effects of steroid abuse among women are also unsure. The short-term effects involved, deepened voice, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair as well as chest and back hair, and genital problems can also result. It is unreal that a woman will continue using steroids after noticing some of the immediate effects steroids have on her. Possibly, some women may not believe that steroids are going to damage their body. Again, the dangerous effects these drugs can have on women and all individuals are indeed reasoning for their prohibition.
The lack of official research is no reason to allow the legal existence of steroids in our society. Just because there is no indubitable evidence proving the dangerous effects of steroids does not mean they do not exist. How many individuals must suffer from the addiction of steroids before we take the necessary action to abolish sanctioned use of steroids? Each year, more and more famous retired athletes are admitting to their steroid use during their career, and are certain the medical difficulties they are enduring are a direct result from their steroid abuse. People need to listen to what these retired athletes have to say, and use their experiences with steroid use to teach our young about the dangers involved. Furthermore, a complete professional research of long and short-term effects caused by steroids on men, women and adolescents, is far overdue. Certainly the banning of steroids will not only help the lives of current users, but also prevent the further spread of addiction to steroids in our communities.
Southwestern Steroid Page. 20 April 2001
FindLaw Sports Page. 20 April 2001 [http://sports.findlaw.com/drugs/]