Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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Steroids were first developed in the 1930's. The Germans first experimented on dogs and then on their own soldiers in the World War II, as well as used them on their prisoners to help them stay healthy because they suffered from significant malnutrition. Then in the 1950's many Russian and European athletes began to find that steroids were very beneficial to their goals and soon after began dominating the sport of power lifting, crushing previous world records. In the mid 1950's it was proven that testosterone was the reason behind the improved athletic ability by Dr. Ziegler. Soon after he and his labs were producing Dianabol or Methandrostenolone. A few years later, steroids were available on the market. At that time both athletes and doctors were using them alike on a regular basis. On March 1st 1991, the Federal Anabolic Control Act was in effect. This put anabolic steroids on the schedule III of the Controlled Substance Act, making them an illegal substance without a prescription.

Today, there are clinics that will prescribe testosterone and HGH to qualified patients. HGH is also known as Human Growth Hormone. Because of this act, the only other way to get steroids is on the black market.

There are many reasons why people take steroids. Before you look at the side effects of steroids, they seem as a great advancement in medicine. Steroids increase muscle mass, strength, endurance, and recovery rates. They also heighten aggression, improve performance in sports and on the job, increase muscle definition and leanness, and they maintain your appearance while aging.

Although steroids help you greatly in muscular development, it has terrible side effects. The major side effects from abusing steroids can include liver tumors and cancer, yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids, fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in the bad cholesterol, and decreases in the good cholesterol. Other side effects include kidney tumors, severe acne, and trembling. In addition, there are some gender and age specific side effects.

Men may experience the shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and increased risk for prostate cancer. However woman may experience growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or killing of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a deepened voice. Adolescents who use steroids may have their growth halted prematurely through premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes.

There have been many reports of steroid users demonstrating violent behavior. In many cases, this behavior was uncharacteristic of the individual's typical behavior when not taking steroids. While it is difficult to establish that a specific violent act is a direct result of steroid use, there is growing evidence that suggests such a connection. In addition there have been formal studies that found a strong correlation between steroid use and increased aggression. There have been a number of legal cases where steroid use has been introduced as a mitigating factor for a violent crime. In addition to all these terrible side effects, there is evidence that supports the suggestion that steroids use can result in both physiological and psychological dependence. Reported withdrawal symptoms include severe depression and suicidal ideation. There are documented cases of completed suicides. Additionally, in many cases, the need to look bigger and stronger or maintain their new steroid enhanced physique is such a powerful force that it makes the user dependant on the drug.

Despite these dreadful side effects people still use them. When you think of people using steroids, you think of body builders. Steroids have been used in bodybuilding since the early 50's. But bodybuilding is not the only professional sport where steroids are being used consistently. Swimmers, Rugby players, Basketball players, and especially pro Football players are often using steroids. Despite these facts, recent trends show that many non-athletes are using steroids also. Teens and adults are using steroids as they would use any other drug.

Today there aren't many ways to test for steroids. Steroids are usually administered as testosterone enanthate or as one of many other compunds. These compounds were supposed to hydrolyze rapidly and completely in the body to release free testosterone. Modern methodology now allows us to determine that small amounts remain in the body for a long time. The finding of such compounds in the blood would be indicative of steroid use.

Personally I find steroids to be the coward way out. They are not only the easy way out, but they are terrible for your body. People only think about the short-term results, not at the long term. I feel being great at any physical activity should be earned by commitment and a lot of hard work, not by some drug.