Anabolic steroids are synthetic designer versions of testosterone that were first developed in the 1930s to treat medical conditions. Shortly after this development, it was found that the growth of skeletal muscle increased in laboratory animals when they were given anabolic steroids.
Today, anabolic steroids can be found in many different forms, including powders and pills that are taken orally, gels or creams that are absorbed through the skin, and in liquid forms that are injected into the muscle with needles. These various ways to consume anabolic steroids exist despite the fact that steroids are illegal and considered a controlled substance, in addition to being banned by major sports organizations such as IOC, NCAA, NFL, NBA and MLB.
Anabolic steroids are popular among teenagers. In fact, 25 percent of steroid users started taking them during their teenage years. Athletes participating in sports that require strength, power, speed, size and endurance typically are at greater risk for taking steroids.
Many people start taking anabolic steroids because they believe that it will lead to increases in strength and muscle size, as well as improvement in athletic performance. However, steroids have not demonstrated that they improve performance or endurance, and increases, in strength and muscle size have been found only when steroids are taken at high doses and in conjunction with a strength-training program. Athletes may take steroids to gain weight, increase muscle mass, and improve power. However, non-athletes also use them to improve their physique and gain weight.
Sometimes anabolic steroids are used by people who have a chronic preoccupation with the belief that they are not muscular enough, a condition called muscle dysmorphia. Muscle dysmorphia can be hard to diagnose because patients may appear healthy.