It is amazing what athletes will do to achieve higher levels of performance and to sometimes get the extra edge on the competition. Most of the time people do not realize the long-term effects that result from the decisions they make early in life. This resembles the use of steroids in a person’s life.
Steroids became an option for athletes in the Olympics and other major sporting events during the 1950s. But this use of steroids among athletes only became widely apparent when Canadian sprint runner Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use after winning the gold medal for the one hundred-meter dash during the 1988 Olympics (Francis, 45). Now a skinny fifteen-year-old can just walk down to the local gym and find people who either sell or know how to get in contact with those who sell the drug that will make him envious of his friends. Steroids are an attractive drug.
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While steroids seem harmless to the unaware user, they can have a risky effect. Most of the time whether the users are new or experienced, they do not know the dangerous consequences steroids can have on their bodies and their minds. Though steroids cause a relatively insignificant number of deaths in our society, the banning of steroids is justified because steroids have a lot of side effects not known to the uninformed user.
Even though steroids are known as a somewhat dangerous substance, they are legal to have and to consume. There has not been a study that proves such possible side effects are linked to medical problems of steroid users (Rogak, 89). There are those who have pointed out several cases where someone has died and an autopsy has shown that the person was using steroids, but they claim this does not mean that it is a deadly drug as some medical professionals have stated (97).
Some advocates of steroids believe that because steroids are legal, and because it is the decision of the user to take the drug, steroids are not causing a problem in society. Alcohol and cigarettes are consumed by millions of people, causing a lot of deteriorating effects on their bodies, but there has never been a ban on these items because of the dangers that they can cause. Why should steroids be different? Some people say that the widespread use of steroids among athletes is forcing young athletes to use steroids, even though it is against their standards.
This is because they know they can not compete at the level against their opponents who are using steroids to go to the next level of performance. A lot of people claim that this is how the competition is supposed to be. Racecar drivers are out there every day, pushing themselves to the limit. They are taking that corner a little bit faster, putting themselves in danger just a little bit more. This is no different than the risk football players, wrestlers, and weight lifters make when they decide to use steroids to take them to the next level. There are people who justify steroid abuse because of these reasons, claiming that their use in sports and other activities are just the added element that an athlete needs to boost their performance.
However, there has not yet been any definite medical research to prove that steroid abuse is linked to severe medical conditions (Cowart, 33). Only the warnings that come from users that are currently dealing with medical difficulties that most likely have been a result of steroid use. These people are living proof of the harmful effects of steroids. Cigarettes and alcohol are major contributors to thousands of deaths each year (47). A lot of people have family members or friends that are suffering from diseases and health conditions caused by smoking and drinking. Sometimes these can lead to an early grave, sometimes a very painful death. Some people will use these situations as a reason not to drink or smoke. A similar situation would be a young athlete watching their muscular idols suffering from medical problems caused by steroids.
Some of these professionals will even admit to their former steroid abuse in hopes to persuade the thousands of young athletes that the quick results of steroids do not pay off in the end. When these kids see the long-term results that occur to professional athletes, they should realize the need to stay away from steroids or give up the addiction that they have to them. This might mean they will have to give up the idea of the body that they have always dreamed of. If someone who was currently abusing steroids was to listen to what a former addict has gone through, that person might very well be persuaded to give up the addiction. In the end, these people would have the advantage because they will be the ones who are going to live a longer and happier life.
Also, the physiological and psychological dependencies caused by steroids are most of the time consistent with steroid abusers (Silverstein, 61). These problems cause personal problems with the user as well as with the family and friends of the user. Once a young user sees the results in his body from the steroids, there is no turning back. It would be his worst nightmare to go back to that little body that was made fun of or picked on in school.
When athletes see the performance advantages that they have gained, they will soon want to take more steroids because they will get used to the level they have obtained. For the athletes to stop and drop the addiction all of the sudden is not possible because the second best is not acceptable in their minds. These addictions can also lead them to lose interest in friends and family because they are concentrating only on their physique and their athletic improvements. One of the worst results of steroid abuse is that the drug will cause “roid rages.”
This is when out of nowhere there are spontaneous acts of violence and abuse towards anyone a user comes in contact with. Roid rage is usually caused when the user is cycling on and off steroids (Lukas, 29). This creates a psychological rollercoaster that can lead to violent outbursts because of the need to work out and release tension. The situation can be worse if the user is non-athletic because football players can release a lot of their rage on the field. Some sever addictions can include symptoms such as increased libido, sexual perversion, and psychotic episodes (48). Steroid-induced criminal violence and murder have been documented many times (Park, 97).
For instance, Horace K. Williams, a twenty-three-year-old steroid user, was tried in May 1988 for the brutal murder of a hitchhiker (Gallaway, 104). Williams did not have a violent history and he did not have any major psychological problems. But Williams had started using steroids in order to improve his athletic performance. He played football in high school and after high school, he got into bodybuilding. During his trial, he described how steroids changed his behaviour. In his first stage of steroid use, he used 5mg of oral Dianabol for two weeks and then 25mg per day for the next five weeks. Williams experienced an increase in confidence, which increased his ability to ask women out.
This gave him a strong willingness to train harder. He also was increasing the steroids he used. He now was stacking Dianabol and oxymetholone orally along with injections of testosterone cypionate. He then described how he became easily agitated into violent behaviour and he then was going around threatening people. At one time he tried to get off steroids but he “was so depressed that I thought I might kill myself if I didn’t get back on steroids. I felt like a wimp when I wasn’t on steroids.” He then started taking higher doses, stacking four to five different steroids daily.
He became obsessed with fighting, he felt like everyone was afraid of him, and he got to the point where he could not control his own madness. Steroids caused this state of mind in Williams. One night he picked up a hitchhiker, drove him to an empty field, undressed him, beat him to death with a board and a lead pipe, scalped him, shaved the hair off his arms and legs, hung him with a rope, and repeatedly ran him over with his car (121).
Steroids are also becoming more common in women’s athletics. The doses of steroids that women will take when they are cycling on steroids can have a lot of dangerous side effects. Some of the short-term effects involve deepened voice, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair and chest hair, and also genital problems. Women may also have irregularities in their menstrual cycle. The long-term side effects for women have not been determined yet.
Even with all of these effects, steroid use is very common in the sports world (Courson, 88). Athletes who use steroids do not think of themselves as cheaters. Many set high goals for themselves and work hard at achieving them. Steroids are seen as just a way to help them work harder and more effectively. Athletes that do not use steroids know that steroid users have an unfair advantage. The United States shot -putter Augie Wolf summarized many athletes’ feelings: “Drug taking is rampant. Only the uninformed get caught. The pressure to take drugs is enormous. An athlete asks himself, ‘Do I take drugs and win medals, or do I play fair and finish last’?” Bill Curry, football coach at Alabama, comments, “The system is saying do whatever it takes to win. It is saying, ‘We’ll make you rich, famous and put you on TV.’ We are a quick-fix society that wants the rush, that medal, that national championship” (Johnson, 50).
In addition, Retired sprinter Carl Lewis, who has won nine Olympic gold medals, came out with comments about drugs in modern sports. He called it “lies and cover-ups” by some track and field administrators who protect athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs. Lewis said that authorities overlook many infractions and contended that it is “no coincidence” that most of the current high-profile drug controversies involve athletes over the age of thirty. Lewis went on to say “the sport is losing credibility because people know it is dirty. We need to change the whole moral standard of this sport”(Thibault, 2).
If professional athletes are taking steroids, then a high school athlete has to be kicking the thought around of trying steroids. They have to wonder how they are going to succeed if they do not take them. Steroid use could possibly be lowered in high school age kids if their high school physical education teachers taught their students about the effects of steroids and the lifestyle it could lead to.
Just because there is no official proof that steroids can damage and possibly kill is no reason to allow steroids to be legal in our society. No proof does not mean that the dangers do not exist. Every year more and more famous retired athletes are admitting to steroid use in their career, and admitting certain medical problems as a result of their steroid abuse. People need to listen to what they have to say and use them as an example of teaching the younger crowd. The banning of steroids would not only help the people who are currently abusing them but also help taper the spread of addiction to steroids in society.
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