Despite years of media coverage on the harmful effects of anabolic steroids, use of performance-enhancing drugs continues to be a major problem in the UK. These drugs cause rapid muscle gain and fat loss, making for a more muscular and defined physique. People are drawn in by the promise of results that go beyond the body’s usual limits; rather than being a quick fix, however, a lot of users take them alongside their usual training regime to boost their progress.
Legally speaking, anabolic steroids are Class C drugs. This is the lowest tier, with drugs like heroin and amphetamines being classes A and B. Other class C drugs are diazepam (available legally when medically prescribed for conditions such as severe anxiety or alcohol dependency), GHB (the date rape drug), piperazines (aka BZP, commonly used as a substitute for ecstasy or amphetamines), and khat (a mild stimulant drug).
Users of anabolic steroids often don’t see them as ‘real’ drugs because they’re not meeting a dealer late at night or ‘getting high’. If they choose to inject, there’s no Trainspotting moment spent searching for a vein, as steroids are delivered directly into the muscles. If tablets are used, they’re taken regularly, like a vitamin, instead of being thrown back in a nightclub bathroom. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of appreciation for the harmful effects of steroids.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, steroids can help users to build muscle and shed fat quickly – but this isn’t all. Along with these benefits come a host of unpleasant and serious side-effects. These include hair loss, acne, fertility problems (low sperm count/interference with menstrual cycle), shrunken testicles/clitoral swelling, erectile difficulties, fluid retention, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, increased risk of blood clots, liver problems and failure, kidney problems and failure, an increased risk of blood clots, and a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.
Adverse psychological effects include insomnia, persistent low mood, anxiety, mood swings, and ‘roid rage’. Long-term users can also develop body dysmorphia or ‘bigorexia’ – the false belief that they’re not big enough, much like anorexics who believe they’re too large. Short of this, a general distortion of what is healthy muscle mass can be triggered by a normalisation of steroid abuse.
Reading this (non-exhaustive) list, it’s clear that the, mainly aesthetic, benefits of steroids are completely outweighed by the dangers they carry. In addition to this, their use is of particular concern in teenagers. Steroids interfere with puberty, leading to stunted growth and irreversible damage to bones and fertility. Unfortunately, this is a time when people may be tempted by steroids, as they’re more body conscious and their body goals are modelled on fully grown adults.
Reps > roids
As a gym and a health club, The Thames Club is committed to raising awareness about the harmful effects of steroid use and to encourage our members to go the natural route when building muscle mass. To us, the purpose of going to the gym is to gain physical, mental and aesthetic benefits. These are all important and we can’t sacrifice our health for the sake of the mirror.
This is why we take a holistic approach to fitness. Cardio machines, strength training, yoga (regular or hot), swimming, guided classes – we have it all because diversity in a training regime garners better (and faster) results. Our in-house nutritionist is available to give professional dietary advice that will aid the attainment of physical goals. We also provide wellbeing services, because being physically strong and lean means nothing if you’re not able to enjoy your body. This tripartite approach ensures that our members can take care of themselves – their whole selves – and dispel any temptation they might have otherwise had to use steroids.