As bodybuilding and fitness competitions are gaining popularity you may notice some people are gaining more than just strength, but incredible amounts of muscle mass. Before you think that just an extra session at the gym will breed those results, you may want to think about the realistic “gains” a person can achieve drug free. Yes, our bodies are incredible and with dedication, proper training and immaculate nutrition some people can achieve really impressive results, but there can also be unrealistic expectations for some without the use of drugged training. As more and more people are using drugs to achieve unrealistic results it can start to give those around them a distorted image of health. Bottom line is, if you are using drugs to fuel your workouts, we can’t say those workouts are geared towards greater health, wellness or even longevity.
The US Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration tells us that, “Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone…the common street (slang) names for anabolic steroids include Arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, and juice. The two major effects of testosterone are an androgenic effect and an anabolic effect. The term androgenic refers to the physical changes experienced by a male during puberty, in the course of development to manhood. Androgenic effects would be similarly experienced in a female. This property is responsible for the majority of the side effects of steroid use. The term anabolic refers to promoting of anabolism, the actual building of tissues, mainly muscle, accomplished by the promotion of protein synthesis.” You may wonder why someone wants to mimic the hormonal changes of a boy in puberty, but for those looking to increase their competitive edge, they are willing to do just about anything. Although most people are using steroids illegally, they would rather unnaturally boost their size and strength regardless what science says the effects on their health will be.
When someone adds these drugs to their training routine, they will get results. They may also notice other changes in their body like heart complications, body hair growth, mood swings, hormone abnormalities, acne, kidney/liver damage and infertility to name a few. There are also concerns for what the long term effects may be. The National Institute on Drug Abuse voices concerns, “that a number of serious adverse effects might be going under-reported and even under-recognized, because these side-effects might take many years to manifest and evolve.” Yet, it’s not just body builders and those wanting to show off on stage; athletes have also been known to risk their craft for the sake of getting fast, stronger and winning medals and games.
Sporting events around the world have changed due to the increased use of steroids. From Olympians to student athletes looking to break records, gain scholarships or even to just make the team it’s now common practice to drug test athletes. Not only because they taint the talent and true measure of the athlete, but using anabolic steroids without a prescription The Drug Enforcement Administration says, “The possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a valid prescription is illegal. Simple possession of illicitly obtained anabolic steroids carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if this is an individual’s first drug offense.” Drugs are drugs, whether you think that taking anabolic steroids is lesser of a crime, it is still one and could have you facing time behind bars. It has many questioning why people would risk their livelihood, families and more just to “juice” themselves up so to speak.
If you are looking to build muscle mass and lose fat there are so many healthy and wonderful ways to go about it, but taking illegal drugs should not be one of them. If you know people who are, don’t let that pressure you into thinking you need to do the same. Too many lives have been lost to seeking glory for their gains. From those who die in their later years of kidney failure, to those who develop cancer or addiction from their abuse. Some well-known athletes who died for strength include: Kenneth Williams, Lyle Alzado, Curt Hennig, Matthew Dear, Andreas Munzer and Mohammed “Momo” Benaziza just to name a few, many of them under the age of 40!
Don’t let any one person, social media account or magazine trick you or someone you love into thinking that drugs are the answer. Don’t be fooled by “claims,” that steroids are ok if they are just for one competition or temporary use. Ask your trainer or instructor about their lifestyle, and if that includes illegal drugs think twice about their advice or suggestions. No one should be resorting to illegal drug use to get strong or look fit. True wellness means learning to love you without going to extremes, gimmicks or drugs. We want you to live well, not be dying to be strong.
Mary Hoadley – Director of The Wellness Center