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Drug Information

Anabolic Steroids


What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is the chemical in men responsible for things such as facial hair, sex organ development and deepening of the voice. Anabolic steroids are not the same as the steroids that are prescribed for things such as asthma and skin disorders, which are corticosteroids that have no muscle building effects.

How are they used?

Steroids may be taken orally or injected into muscle; they should never be injected into a vein. Steroids should not be used continuously as this can cause physical harm. Individuals should use steroids in cycles of 4-12 weeks, and then have periods when no steroids or other performance enhancing drugs are used. This is done to give the body a rest from the side effects and allow the steroid receptor sites to regain sensitivity to steroids.

During a cycle people may take a combination of two or more drugs, which is known as stacking. When stacking more than one steroid the dose of each can be reduced with the same effects obtained.

What are the effects?

Anabolic steroids stimulate muscle growth; this is the anabolic effect of testosterone. People take steroids for the anabolic effect, however they also have an androgenic effect, which are masculinising effects. If steroids are to be effective and muscle growth take place weight training has to take place and an appropriate diet followed. Steroids tend to increase appetite, energy, motivation, confidence and self-esteem.

There are many problems associated with steroid use. Physical problems include increased water retention, acne, changes in sex drive, changes in cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, abnormal liver function and changes in fertility.

Psychological problems may include mood swings, irritability, fatigue, impulsive behaviour, paranoia, sleep disorders, depression, hallucinations and increased aggression. For males steroid use may result in baldness, development of breast tissue, shrinking testicles and decreased sperm production. Females may experience facial hair growth, changes in the menstrual cycle, decreased breast size, enlargement of the clitoris and a deeper voice.

Legal Status

Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs. It is not illegal to possess anabolic steroids for personal use. It is illegal to manufacture, to supply or to import or export them with the intent to supply. The maximum sentence is 14 years in prison plus an unlimited fine.


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