by Jeff Libengood
My buddy’s room was typical for a college jock: eternally un-made bed; gym shorts, T-shirts, jockstraps in a pile by the door, and posters of bodybuilders on the walls, alongside those of Cindy, Christie and Claudia. I knew I wanted the same physique as my muscular friend, and came to this room to get in on the big boy’s secret: anabolic steroids.
“You gotta learn to do it your-self,” he told me, handing over a fully loaded syringe. I assumed my bravest facade, my game face, and oddly recalled doing the same when I visited the doctor as a kid. Those were times when I was sick; this wasn’t. I was healthy and strong. I hesitated. Why, I wondered, do I want to stick myself with this needle?
“Hey, man, just do it. You’ll get huge!”
So, I took the syringe and jabbed it into my hip.
“Pull back the plunger first, check for bubbles—that means you’re in the muscle. OK, now… squeeze it in.”
* * *
Steroids make athletes stronger. They enhance performance and alter cosmetic appearance, noticeably and quickly. The resulting physiques give the immediate appearance of power, sexuality and bursting good health. We live in a “Hollywood society” in which success, acceptance and popularity are based on recognizable achievement; to the victor goes the spoils, and all that. Elite bodybuilders are worshipped by thousands of fans and followers who aspire look just like their muscular heroes. And you’d better believe it: anything that can promise these qualities quickly will be in high demand—regardless of long-term health risks or legality factors.
Anabolic steroids have been in existence for nearly 40 years, a fairly long time for prescription drugs.
Evidence shows at least one scientist more than 100 years ago hypothesized that testosterone was responsible for male characteristics but was unable to substantiate his claim. In the ’40s, discoveries in the areas of testosterone and its anabolic (muscle-building) effect prompted manufacture of an injectable testosterone administered to persons suffering from malnutrition, mainly prisoners of war.
By the early ’50s, athletes in the western world were already using these injectables to increase strength. News of this “new drug” leaked as Russian power lifters set new weight-lifting records with startling regularity. Dr. John Ziegler, in an attempt to give American athletes the same edge, teamed up with CIBA labs to develop Dianobol in 1956. The drug was basically a crude derivative of testosterone, yet it has remained one of the most effective steroids ever created.
Today there are roughly 120 kinds of steroids manufactured around the world. They are used, legally, to treat a limited number of infirmities and, illegally, of course, by athletes to increase lean muscle tissue. The drugs developed in the ’50s are largely the same as those used today. Manufacturers could create safer steroids, but don’t. Why? There are limited clinical uses for them and there is continuing political and social pressure to discontinue their manufacture, making the drug unprofitable. Unfortunately, this has led to counterfeit steroid production. Naturally, this created more government intervention, regulations and restrictions— which has led to even more underground production—and the cycle continues to worsen.
Steroids are used because they deliver the goods—but not without a price. These are drugs and all drugs have side effects. The types and degree of effects vary with each situation, but include acne, aggression (so called ‘roid rage), gynecomastia (an abnormal swelling around the nipple area of men), headaches, impotency, stomachaches, joint pains, muscle tears, insomnia, increased cholesterol levels, hypertension, joint swelling and premature loss of hair. These symptoms are most common among men, but women can expect a deepening of the voice, excessive facial hair and clitoral enlargement. In teenagers, bones stop growing prematurely (bone closure) because of use of the drug.
Severe symptoms occur in long-term (months or years) heavy users and are reversible upon cessation of use with a few exceptions, notably the deepened voice, swollen joints and bone closure. Steroid users, intent on creating the perfect body, actually sacrifice their long-term (and short-term) good health. Years later, cardiovascular diseases can be expected.
My experience with steroids was short-lived—only eight weeks. At the time, their use was not illegal. I used 20 mgs. of Dianobol a day and 400 mgs. of Deca-Durabolin a week. In addition to the 14 pounds of muscle I gained in that time, I also developed terrible acne all over my back and shoulders. I felt gross. I became too embarrassed to remove my shirt even during the most strenuous workout. I didn’t appreciate my gains as I attributed them not to hard work, but to the drugs, and my self-esteem dropped. I became convinced the gains weren’t worth it. I returned to training naturally and scientifically and have made continued gains as a body builder ever since.
My personal opinion and advice on steroids is avoid them! Besides being illegal, even the “cleanest—’ pose health risks and, with all of the counterfeit steroids on the market, the risks are even greater. Besides, you can do everything you need without them. Work hard, cat right and be consistent, and you can have the body you want—naturally.
Jeff Libengood is a professional trainer; you can call him at 3442-3309 for an appointment.