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Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances abused for years now by various athletes. These substances are in fact versions of a male hormone testosterone.
Both men and women naturally produce testosterone, males in the testes, and females in the ovaries and other tissues. However, like with all hormones which regulate the body's most basic functions, causing imbalance of testosterone can have wide-ranging consequences. Once viewed as a problem strictly associated with body builders, the abuse of steroids is now a widespread problem even in school children and business professionals.

Some people are taking dietary supplements that act as steroid precursors without any knowledge of the dangers associated with their abuse. These supplements are sold in health food stores, over the internet, and through mail order.  These supplements have the same medical consequences as steroids and they too are illegal.

What are the anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are a synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. The full name for this class of drugs is androgenic (which means that they promote masculine characteristics) anabolic (act on tissue building) steroids (this is the class of drugs).

There are many different variants of steroids as well as the street names. Some of the most abused steroids include:
  • Deca-Durabolin
  • Durabolin
  • Equipoise
  • Winstrol
The common street (slang) names for anabolic steroids include:
  • arnolds
  • gym candy
  • pumpers
  • roids
  • stackers
  • weight trainers
  • juice
These substances are also legally prescribed by doctors for various conditions such as loss of function of the testicles, breast cancer, low red blood cell count, delayed puberty, and debilitated states resulting from surgery or sickness. Steroids are also being used in veterinarian practice for promoting feed efficiency, and improving weight gain, vigor, and hair coat. They are also used in veterinary practice to treat anemia and counteract tissue breakdown during illness and trauma.

How are anabolic steroids used?

Anabolic steroids can be taken:
  • orally,
  • by injection
  • in creams or gels
Dosages can vary depending on the medical condition, its severity and the age of the patient. In illegal use of this group of steroids dosages are highly variable and can be 10 to 40, sometimes even a 100 times higher than the recommended dose.

Two or more types of the drug are often used, which is called 'stacking', as there is a belief that two or more interacting steroids produced an improved result. There are also periods when the drug is not used at all. It is believed by arranging the doses and drugs in this way that the body is allowed time to adjust and avoid the well documented side effects as the body can return to normal production of hormones. 

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