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  • 1. JoJo Walters May 7, 2010 CO 300 Sec 9 Psychological Downfall A male member of the gym I currently work at, I will call him Mike, informed me that one of his close friends has become an avid user of anabolic steroids within the last five years. Mike used to hang out with this friend constantly, even lifted weights together. However, Mike doesn’t care to spend time with his friend anymore. He used to be a really laid back, reasonable, caring guy, but since taking anabolic steroids, his mood swings are all over the place and completely unpredictable. At times he will seem like himself, content and well balanced; then the next minute he will be angry and aggressive striking anything and everything around him. Mike remembered he was with his friend lifting and his friend was unable to complete his last two repetitions of his last set of dumb bell chest press. Mike quotes “he became extremely angry, stood up and threw the weights across the bench.” Lucky for Mike, he was able to dodge the weights and was unharmed. “I could have been seriously injured over something that has no justification.” Mike also mentioned that he could tell when his friend was off of his cycle for taking the steroids. “He goes into a state of withdrawal. He experiences depression and anxiety and completely shuts himself off from the world.” Today Mike does not care to see his friend. He does not feel safe or comfortable around him, and “he is just not who he used to be.” Mike’s story is just one of many examples of the harm that anabolic steroid users can afflict on loved ones. Mike was lucky that he never ended up physically hurt by his
  • 2. friend; however, he has been emotionally damaged in that he has lost one of his good friends to drug usage. Performance enhancing drugs is a rather broad term that incorporates multiple types of supplements to enhance physical performance. Anabolic steroids is among this category and is defined as “any of a group of usually synthetic hormones that are derivatives of testosterone, are used medically especially to promote tissue growth, and are sometimes abused by athletes to increase the size and strength of their muscles and improve endurance” (dictionary.com). The use of the majority of anabolic steroids in the United States is illegal; however, people still manage to obtain them, primarily through the internet. I am a sports medicine major at Colorado State University. Human health has always been of interest to me, and supplements of any kind fall into this category. I have taken several classes that touch on this subject of performance enhancing drugs. I consider myself knowledgeable about the pros and cons of these drugs, as well as the multiple side effects they produce. Anabolic steroids have been a curiosity of mine even when I was younger. Growing up as an athlete gave me this curiosity. The majority of people that take anabolic steroids exceed the recommend dosage by far. This can, and will most likely cause numerous amounts of negative side effects and consequences. A subgroup of the overall effects is the psychological effects these drugs can cause. These negative affects not only hurt the person taking anabolic steroids, but they also hurt the close friends and family members of that person. They are at risk for physical harm as well as emotional harm and possibly psychological damage as well. Anabolic steroid users can encounter “increased aggression, ‘roid rage,’ increased feeling of power, anxiety, isolation, and even withdrawal and depression” once usage has ceased
  • 3. (Choi, pg 349). These negative feelings can cause disruption and lashing out towards loved ones. Friends and family of someone consuming anabolic steroids should be informed with of the symptoms that these drugs can cause and possible options for getting help. In one particular experiment conducted by scientists, six athletes were used as subjects; three taking steroids and three not taking steroids; all athletes worked out at the same gym. Observation and questionnaires were given to each of the athletes throughout the experiment. After the trial was complete, results revealed several things. Steroid users showed more aggression and hostility as compared to the non-users. Not only was this increase in aggression observed at the gym, but in the personal lives of the users as well. One subject reported feeling invincible and walked out in front of traffic. This same subject also admitted to attempted murder (Choi, pg 349). This kind of lashing out behavior would have never happened had the subject not been jacked up on anabolic steroids. Evidence of this was shown in a follow up on each subject that was conducted and revealed that all of these feelings were ceased once the consumption of drugs was stopped. Information regarding safe usage of anabolic steroids is currently available. Brenda Patoine, an accredited neuroscience writer, addresses the issue that the main reason for the “psychiatric effects, including aggression, violence, hypomania, and depression” (Par 4) is high doses of anabolic steroids. Dosage is the main problem in people consuming steroids; they take a massive amount, much higher than they should. Along with this, people that take a too high of dose are also more likely to combine drugs, called “stacking,” which is also dangerous to the brain. Patoine points out from a highly creditable source, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, that if steroids are taken in the lower, safer dosage, they may possibly have less unfavorable effects in the brain, and aggression won’t occur as
  • 4. prevalent. In contrary, I do not believe that family members and friends of anabolic steroid users should assume that their friend or family member is taking the correct dosage. It is better to be safe than sorry and being more cautious and having a plan for treatment is smarter than not having one at all. In regards to the example given earlier about Mike, it is true that he experienced first hand one of the more extreme circumstances. Several cases exist where people consume anabolic steroids and experience minimal to no psychological affects. My point is not to stop all use of anabolic steroids; it is to inform people that situations such as Mike’s can happen and should not be ruled out in accordance to anyone. It is important for people close to anabolic steroid users to keep an eye out for abnormal and destructive behavior before serious complications occur. Approaching someone on steroids to confront them with this issue may be extremely difficult and will take a lot of nerve. However, once that person realizes the issue and seeks help, he or she will thank you in the end for preventing unwanted pain. In regards to more serious cases, creating an intervention or seeking professional help is recommended if extreme psychological disorder arises.