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How are anabolics used by athletes?

      Athletes take steroids in large amounts, and often take more
 than one type of steroid at the same time.  This is called
 "stacking," or "stacking the pyramid."(1-3)  

      Athletes do not usually take high doses of steroids all the
 time.  Instead they take large amounts of steroids for 4 to 18
 weeks, then stop taking them for 1 to 12 months.  This is called
 "cycling."(2,4,5)  Combinations of stacking and
 cycling vary greatly from one steroid abuser to the next.  Methods
 of use are passed from one person to another by word of mouth
 instead of being based on scientific experiments.  The doses taken
 by younger athletes today may be as much as 36% higher than the
 anabolic steroid doses taken by athletes in past years.(6) 
 Formal scientific studies are lacking, and no one knows whether
 stacking and cycling cause more muscle growth than taking normal
 doses of steroids.(5)

      Most anabolic steroid abusers purchase these drugs on the
 black market.  Because there are no controls over this activity,
 the identity and purity of the drugs are questionable.  Athletes
 and others sometimes use veterinary steroids.(5,7) 
 Since these were developed for use in animals, there have been no
 studies in humans to determine the dose or predict side

      Like other black market drugs, bootleg anabolics are being
 made in illegal laboratories.(7-9)  They look like
 the actual drug, but may not have the same active ingredients or
 the right strength.(9)  For example, methandrostenolone
 (Dianabol(R)) was a popular anabolic steroid.  After being taken
 off the market by its legitimate manufacturers(5,9), it
 continues to be sold illicitly.  A study recently analyzed three
 samples labeled "methandrostenolone."  Instead of the steroid on
 the label, one contained methyltestosterone, another was caffeine,
 and the third had no active ingredients.(9)  In addition,
 injectable drugs made in illicit laboratories may not be sterile.

      With any drug, the higher the dose, the more likely it is that
 side effects will appear.  This holds true for anabolics as well. 
 Anabolic abusers sometimes take other drugs to control the side
 effects caused by the steroids:(7)  Estrogen blockers are
 taken to prevent breast enlargement (look under the question, "What
 effects do anabolic steroids have on adults?" to understand why
 this happens);  Diuretics (fluid pills) are taken to treat fluid
 retention; Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is taken to prevent
 testicular atrophy; Human Growth Hormone is taken to increase
 muscle and body size.(7)  Each of these drugs carries side
 effects of its own.


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REFERENCES 1. Knuth UA, Maniera H, Nieschlag E. Anabolic steroids and semen parameters in bodybuilders. Fertility And Sterility 1989 Dec;52(6):1041-7. 2. Wagner JC. Abuse of drugs used to enhance athletic performance. American Journal Of Hospital Pharmacy 1989 Oct;46:2059-67. 3. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic steroid addiction hypothesis. JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec 8;262(22):3166-70. 4. Brower KJ, Eliopulos GA, Blow FC, Catlin DH, Beresford TP. Evidence for physical and psychological dependence on anabolic androgenic steroids in 8 weight lifters. American Journal Of Psychiatry 1990 Apr;147(4):510-2. 5. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews 1988;9(2):181-99. 6. Oconnor JS, Baldini FD, Skinner JS, Einstein M. Blood chemistry of current and previous anabolic steroid users. Military Medicine 1990 Feb;155(2):72-5. 7. Brower KJ, Catlin DH, Blow FC, Eliopulos GA, Beresford TP. Clinical assessment and urine testing for anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse and dependence. American Journal Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse 1991;17(2):161-71. 8. Johnson MD. Anabolic steroid use in adolescent athletes. Pediatr Clin North Am 1990 Oct;37(5):1111-23. 9. Walters MJ, Ayers RJ, Brown DJ. Analysis of illegally distributed anabolic steroid products by liquid chromatography with identity confirmation by mass spectrometry or infrared spectrophotometry. Journal Of The Association Of Official Analytical Chemists 1990 Nov-Dec;73(6):904-26. by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph. (c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: Steroid use is illegal in a vast number of countries around the world. This is not without reason. Steroids should only be used when prescribed by your doctor and under close supervision. Steroid use is not to be taken lightly and we do not in any way endorse or approve of illegal drug use. The information is provided on the same basis as all the other information on this site, as informational/entertainment value.

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