The Psychological Effects of Using Steriods
Anabolic Steriods. What are they? Where do they come from? Why are they
From amateurs to pros, from body builders to football players and every sport in
between, Steriods, or “roids” as they are referred to, have been in the circle of athletes
since the 1950’s. Is it vanity that drives athletes to use steriods? Do they understand the
end results from the abuse of “roids”? What psychological effects do steriods have on
In order to understand the psychological effects of steriods, you must first
understand what steriods are and where they come from.

The natural form of steriods is the hormone testosterone, which is produced in
males by the testes and adrenal glands and by the adrenal glands in females. The body
uses these hormones to combat inflammation, stimulate development of bones and
muscles, contributes to the growth of skin and hair and can also influnece emotions.

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Anabolic Steriods, also known as “juice”, are a synthetic version of the hormone
testosterone. When taken, either orally or injected, these synthetic steriods fool the body
into thinking that testosterone is being produced and therefore the body shuts down
functions involving testosterone(Mishra 2). Given the right training stimulus and diet,
these steriods enables the user to process protien into muscle fibers at astonishing rates,
creating increased muscle size and strength with a drop in body fat (due to an increase in
metabolic rate) (Silver 1). They are, in effect, the chemical essence of manliness, pysical
power and masculine aggression (Nichols 38).

Synthetic steriods were developed in the 1930’s to rebuild and prevent the
breakdown of body tissue from disease. In the 1950’s, synthetic steriods became popular
with athletes because they helped produce this greater-than-normal muscle size and
strength, but the abuse of these synthetic steriods has many dangerous physical and
Steriods are fast catching up with antibiotics as the most abused class of drugs
prescribed by doctors even though they cannot cure one single condition. All steriods can
do is supress the bodies ability to express a normal response. Sometimes suppression will
give the body a chance to heal itself, but more often causes permanent damage. Doctors,
by law, cannot prescribe anabolic steriods for the purpose of athletic enhancement, and
possession of these steriods without a prescription is a felony, but today there are an
estimated one million current or former illegal-steriod users in the United States (Nichols
1). So why would an individual choose to break the law and ignor the consequesces, both
physical and legal, of using steriods?
From the time children are old enough to join a little league team, parents,
coaches, and society in general, thrust the talented young athletes into early sports
development programs, glorify the youngsters for willing to risk their bodies in order to
win, demand that they aspire to greatness at any cost, and pass on the vision that winning
isn’t everything, it’s the only thing! Thus, by the time these youngsters become teenagers
“juicing” is a frequent topic of discussion. They are now subjected to peer pressure and
self justification for using steriods. They fear their performance will not be as good as it
could be and therefore will diminish their self-esteem. Some student athletes can feel so
pressured to succeed in their sports because they are constantly told that taking risks in
sports is essential to success, that if you are really good the pros will draft you and you
will make millions. Just pick up any sports magazine or watch commercials. Do you see
skinny, wimpy looking athletes promoting a product? No. You see good looking,
muscular and well built athletes leading you to believe that if you buy this product you can
play as well, and look as good as they do.

Society demands and rewards great athletic ability and success, so young people
do not concern themselves with the long term effects of using steriods. They know that
“roids” can give them what nature hadn’t: strength, muscle size and that lean, hungry look
and they can have all these things now! The desire to make the team or to impress their
peers is much more immediate than the future prospect of possible damage to the liver,
heart, or other vital organs and the long term consequences.

The social pressure of appearance is the greatest force that drives young men to
the use of steroids. Many young men feel the need to look “masculine,” that is strong and
muscular. Bodybuilding stresses such muscularity, and some men, and women, abuse
anabolic steriods to increase muscle mass and definition (Mishra 2). Steroids are an “ego”
drug and society sets the standards. One’s appearance plays a critical part of acceptance in
society, thus the need to look strong and muscular. To create a body with large and well
defined muscles, the “Mr Olympia” look.
Along with the enhanced physical appearance comes an increase in self-confidence
and esteen. While these drugs normall do not produce a physical addiction the
psychological addiction is very real. An emotional high that comes with an improved
body. So what happens when users terminate the use of steriods? They have become so
dependant on their appearance and the “pumped” feeling they had while on the steriods,
when they discontinue their use, they become depressed, can’t sleep, can’t eat properly,
and can possilby become suicidal due to the psychological “withdraw” symptoms. They
become so psychologically dependant on the drugs to produce that incredible appearance
they had and they like their looks and increased strength so much they cannot stop using
The use of steroids by females is not as common as with men. Again, appearance
plays the role here also. Steroids in women causes irreversible masculinization, muscle
size and a leaner looking body but promotes the growth of hair on all parts of the body,
lowers their voices and decreases the size of their breasts. These characteristics are not as
appealing to their appearances or to society, they produce the opposite feeling of self
esteem and confidence that men on steroids have, but some females like to compete and
Each and everyone of us cares about our appearance and the way we feel about
ourselves. From the way we wear our hair, the clothes we wear, right down to the cars
we drive and the homes we live in, we want to be noticed. All these things make us feel
better about ourselves. We follow thelatest fashions, styles and trends because we want to
fit in and we want acceptance from our peers and society. We spend endless hours and
countless numbers of dollars on all sorts of miracle products promising us all the ways to
achieve these goals, such as the miracle diet pills and weight loss plans. We are willing to
do whatever it takes in order to fit in. Some people are never satisfied with the way they
look, even those who use steriods and have those muscular bodies will always want
If we cannot control our competitive nature, self love, ego and vanity and if
society, as a whole, doesn’t change the way it demands and rewards the “body beautiful”,
and if people cannot learn to be the best they can be, physically as well as psychologically,
without performance enhancing drugs, there will always be the desire to achieve the
perfect body no matter what the physical or psychological cost.