In sports, using performance-enhancing drugs is illegal, leading to a fall from grace for some prominent athletes.
In 2007, Olympic runner Marion Jones lost five medals she won at the 2000 Olympic Games after admitting to anabolic steroid use. Barry Bonds was convicted of perjury after a scandal involving his steroid abuse in Major League Baseball lasted many years.
Some social media users have probably forgotten about these high-profile failures and are now boasting about their fitness and muscle gains after taking illegal drugs.
Bodybuilder David Rau has shared his experiences with TikToker. He has 25,600 followers. He has shared how-tos and photos of bodies attained naturally and with steroids in his videos. He also discussed the benefits he claims anabolic steroids can provide (confidence, mental sharpness, and increased muscle mass).
It is being used by others, such as Caroline Mathias (TikToker Caroline Mathias) (34,000 followers), to call out the use of steroid drugs by social media influencers.
Doctors warn that social media influencers who promote these drugs can be misleading and cause people to believe they are safe. Anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs can have severe and irreversible health risks and consequences.
What are anabolic steroids?
According to MedlinePlus, anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) is a synthetic version of testosterone. This hormone is the primary sex hormone for men. The appearance of masculine features such as facial hair, a deep voice, and bulging muscles is due to testosterone. The steroids are available as oral pills, injections, or topically applied to the skin.
According to a report published in December 2022 by Frontiers of Endocrinology, these hormones are misused at high doses by people who want larger muscles and better athletic performance.
According to’s research, anabolic steroids were used this way in the 1950s. But since then, they’ve been banned by several athletic organizations as performance-enhancing drugs (more on that below).
Anabolic steroids have a medical use. According to the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration, anabolic steroids are used as a treatment for:
- Testosterone deficiency
- Delayed puberty
- Breast cancer
- Low Red Blood Cell Count
- AIDS-related tissue wasting
According to the Mayo Clinic, they can be prescribed for people with difficulty gaining weight due to unknown reasons.
DEA: Some anabolic steroids can be prescribed for human and pet use for the conditions listed above with a valid prescription. However, these drugs are generally illegal and classified as Schedule 3 substances under the Controlled Substances Act.
According to previous research, they’ve been banned since the middle of the 1970s by the International Olympic Committee and then by most athletic associations.
MedlinePlus says these steroids become illegal and dangerous when misused (and at dosages 10 to 100-fold higher than those used to treat medical conditions), for example, for bodybuilding or to enhance athletic performance.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, anabolic steroids differ from general steroids known as Corticosteroids. These are anti-inflammatory medications such as Prednisone or Cortisone.
The use of anabolic steroids for the wrong reasons can cause serious risks.
They are not only illegal if taken without the supervision of a qualified medical professional, but can also be dangerous. Smit says that side effects may appear after two to three weeks, usually when positive results are evident.
Here are six possible side effects when taking anabolic steroids in high doses without a medical indication.
Heart and Liver Trouble
The increased risk of heart disease is one the most severe effects of steroid usage, says Sean Byers, MD, medical advisor in Los Angeles at Health Report Live.
The DEA warns that steroids can increase cholesterol levels. This could lead to heart attacks, strokes, or coronary artery diseases.
Hypertension and lousy cholesterol are. The heart muscle negatively increases in size. This “hypertrophy” can decrease cardiac function and lead to dangerous arrhythmias.
Oral steroids can also lead to liver trouble, including the development of tumors; according to Nemours Children’s Health, this happens because bones mature too quickly and stop growing.
Have you heard of “roid rage?” The personality changes that may occur as a result of taking anabolic steroids. According to the DEA, many people become hostile, experience significant mood swings, and engage in aggressive behavior. Once the steroids are stopped, this can lead to depression or suicide.
Smit says that many side effects are the same in men and women. Not all. MedlinePlus reports that men who take anabolic steroids can experience breast growth and shrinking of the testicles.
The women may experience a deepening voice, more facial and body hair, male pattern baldness, and changes in their menstrual cycles. Smit says that while most of the anabolic steroid side effects will disappear once the drug is stopped, specific changes in women may be permanent.
Steroids may negatively affect a man’s reproductive. Research states that testosterone is essential for male reproductive organs, sexual function, and sexual desire. However, taking steroids to increase testosterone can interfere with two other reproductive hormones, FSH and LH.
Steroids may also cause abnormalities in the morphology and motility of sperm. This can be reversed – the previous study found that sperm could return to normal within four months.
Although other studies are not as promising, Smit says that whether male fertility always recovers is still being determined. He says that this may affect their desire to have children in the future.
According to DermNet, acne tends to develop on the chest, back, arms, neck, and face in response to high doses of steroids. Steroid acne is more uniform and standard on the chest. Research shows that it is not the most severe side effect, but it is worth noting as it affects about half of those who abuse steroids. Smit says that acne can be disfiguring, but it is still manageable.