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What is Anabolic Androgenic Steroids? (AAS)

Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. The proper term for these compounds is anabolic androgenic steroids. “Anabolic” refers to muscle building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sex characteristics. Some common names for anabolic steroids are Gear, Juice, Roids, and Stackers. Steroids can be prescribed to treat hormonal issues. Steroids can also treat diseases that can cause muscle loss. Unfortunately, some body builders use and abuse these drugs to boost performance or improve their physical appearance.

AASs are drugs derived from the modification of the testosterone molecule in order to augment or limit certain characteristics of testosterone. In general, testosterone has been altered to produce drugs that are more or less anabolic, are more or less androgenic, have differing affinity for the testosterone receptor, have different metabolic breakdown pathways, or are efficacious for oral use; they can also have any combination of these changes.

How is it Abused?

In an attempt to enhance performance or improve physical appearances, athletes tend to abuse the use of AAS. AAS are taken orally or injected, typically in cycles rather than continuously. Stacking is when users often combine several different types of steroids in an attempt to maximize their effectiveness. Cycle refers to taking it in for a period of time and then stopping for a period of time then repeat. Pyramiding is when an athlete is slowly increasing the dosage intake, reaching to the maximum amount then gradually tapering off.

Affecting the Brain

Anabolic steroids work differently from other drugs of abuse. The immediate effects of AAS in the brain are mediated by their binding to androgen (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) receptors on the surface of a cell. This AAS–receptor complex can then shuttle into the cell nucleus to influence patterns of gene expression. The most important difference is that steroids do not trigger rapid increases in the brain chemical dopamine, which causes the “high” that drives people to abuse other substances. Because of this, the acute effects of AAS in the brain are substantially different from those of other drugs of abuse. 

Long term and Short term Effects

There are both the short term and long term effects of taking in Anabolic Androgenic Steroids. In short term effects, the user may experience paranoia- extreme and unreasonable jealousy. Extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgments. For the long term effects, it can cause kidney problem or failure, liver damage, enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, all of which increase the chances of heart attack regarding the age.

Withdrawal

Anabolic steroids do not cause the same high as any other drugs. Still, they can lead to addiction. People may continue to abuse steroids despite the cost to buy the drugs or negative effects. These behaviors reflect steroids’ addictive potential. Users that stop may experience loss of appetite, sleep problems, decreased sex drive and steroid cravings.

Some people seeking treatment for anabolic steroid addiction have found behavioral therapy to be helpful. In certain cases of severe addiction, patients have received medicines to help treat symptoms of withdrawal.

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