Why do anabolic steroids differ from other illegal drugs?

WHY DO ANABOLIC STERIODS DIFFER FROM OTHER ILLEGAL DRUGS?

Anabolic steroids also called anabolic-androgenic steroids or appearance and performance enhancing drugs are synthetically produced variations of the male sex hormone testosterone often used my male athletes and/or weight lifters for the purpose of enhancing their muscle mass or to improve their athletic activity.

Therapeutically anabolic steroids are often prescribed in cases of delayed puberty, or diseases which lead to decreased muscle mass such as AIDS or cancer.

Anabolic steroids is of controversy due to the abuse of these drugs by sports persons. They are often taken orally, injected intramuscularly or applied topically.

These steroids like naturally produced steroids in the body, bind to the steroid receptors, which cause change in genetic expression of certain genes which bring about the increased athletic performance.

On the other hand, illegal euphoric drugs like cocaine Marijuana which act upon neurotransmitters in the brain, disrupt the normal neuronal pathway and bring about such effects.

How do anabolic steroids act on the brain?

Anabolic steroids does not activate the reward system of the brain which does brings about the euphoric state. Nor do steroids bring about a surge in dopamine which is associated with reward-motivating behaviour which is stimulated by the illegal, euphoric drugs.

Although steroids or other performance enhancing drugs on prolonged and compulsive usage leads to substance abuse disorders, it does not cause euphoric-high like the illegal drugs.

Usage of anabolic steroids brings about the following:

  • increased muscle mass
  • improved athletic performance
  • acne
  • fluid retention and swelling of hands and feet
  • oily skin
  • yellowing of skin

EFFECTS BROUGHT UP BY PROLONGED USE OF ANABOLIC-ANDROGENIC STEROIDS:

Long-term usage of anabolic steroids can increase the risk of occurrence of :

Heart attacks

-depression

-kidney failure

-strokes

-kidney failure

SHORT-TERM EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE ANABOLIC STEROIDs USAGE:

-aggressive behaviour

-impaired judgement

-paranoid

-mania

Other health-related risks associated with anabolic steroid usage

-risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis due to shared needles while injecting one’s self with steroids

In teens and adolescents: causes stunted growth

In men:

-shrunken testicles

-development of breasts

-infertility

-baldness

In women:

-increased facial hair

-deep voice

-male pattern baldness

On cessation of use, withdrawal symptoms such as the following encountered:

-extreme mood swings

-steroid craving

-restlessness

-agitated

-disturbed or inability to sleep

-decreased libido

-loss of appetite and weight loss

Continued steroid usage has also been linked with altered pathways in the brain, causing alteration in the function of naturally occurring neurotransmitters such a dopamine, serotonin and opioids.

Illegal drugs:

Illegal drugs commonly including but not limited to marijuana, heroin, cocaine are believed to act by increasing endorphin hormones-which are naturally occurring opioids giving the user a state of pleasure or euphoria

How do steroids differ from illegal drugs differ in terms of addiction?

Although steroids do not stimulate the neuro transmitters in the brain, prolonged usage leads to substance use disorder, which is most commonly encountered is addiction. Despite potential health risks and other problems such as highly priced drugs, aggression persons continue to seek steroids which is reflective of the addictive nature of steroids. It has been noted in studies that people who misuse steroids seek other opioid drugs to escape from sleeplessness and irritability caused by steroids.

In illegal drugs, addiction is related to the concept of difference between naturally reward-promoting behaviour and drug-induced reward promoting behaviour stimulated by neurotransmitters. The brains of persons who are on long term usage of drugs secrete lesser natural dopamine and other neurotransmitters as it is being externally derived, so the person goes back to depending on drugs to experience the pleasure of reward promoting system which gives them the euphoric feel.

Steroids and these pleasure inducing illegal drugs act upon different receptors and have different actions altogether although they can both be addictive on uncontrolled non-monitored usage.

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