When you are an athlete, you know the fierce desire to win competitions, and you know how serious things can get. Other than the obvious satisfaction of accomplishing personal goals, you often want to win medals for your country or get into national teams and do great things. That leads to the next big issue – use of performance enhancing drugs and landing people appointments at the recovery village or banning is becoming increasingly prevalent.
By this point, you are probably aware that you will have problems when you attempt to combine certain drugs with certain foods, or when you use different drugs at the same time. In addition, you are most likely aware of the effects that common drugs that include herbal products, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, have on your response to physical activity, and they can even increase your chances of getting injuries.
When a person uses drugs, many changes will occur in the body – with some happening immediately and others taking some time to show. All side effects can be severe, but the most dangerous has to be the physical effects.
What are some of the physical effects of drug abuse?
The advantage of exercise is that it enhances the efficiency of the body systems, making them work faster and harder. However, drugs interact with these systems in several ways and cause effects including dizziness, impaired balance, changes in appetite, increasing alertness and energy (in the case of stimulants),nausea and flushing of the skin.
While the changes that physical exercise and fitness brings are healthy ones, drugs bring on the opposite effect, with some of their effects being life-threatening. When you combine the effects of physical exercise with drug use, the body can even shut down entirely or go into a state of shock. In addition, if you engage in physical activities that are place heavy physical demands on the body, such as strength training, you put yourself in direct danger of causing permanent damage to your body.
The dangers of performance-enhancing drugs
Even though the combination of performance-enhancing drugs and physical activity is dangerous to the body, some people still engage in it, if the constant reports of doping cases in sport is anything to go by, for instance.
Some people will engage in physical activities almost immediately after drug use even though it is unintentional, or sometimes because of the psychological effects of the drug on their bodies. Others want to improve their level of physical activity, so they end up using these drugs.
The unfortunate thing is that professional athletes are the most vulnerable to using these substances as they participate in their respective sport. For further clarification, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) classifies these drugs into three major categories – substances that violate the spirit of sports, substances that can increase the athlete’s performance, and substances that lead to health risks for their users.
Many athletes who are convicted for doping cases use anabolic steroids since they have a similar effect as testosterone, the male sex hormone. In fact, many athletes that abuse these drugs use them to increase their athletic abilities while building muscle. However, they can result in various health problems including liver diseases, high blood pressure, heart problems and damage to the kidneys.
Testosterone has two main effects on your body – androgenic effects (relating to the male traits like deeper voices and facial hair) and anabolic effects (relating to muscle building). The anabolic steroids that you find athletes using are more of synthetic modifications of the hormone.
The hormonal drugs have approval for certain medical uses, but they are not allowed in improving athletic performance. For instance, a more dangerous version of anabolic steroids is the ‘designer steroids’ – in other words, those that have been specifically designed to be undetectable when you do a drug test. What makes them more dangerous is their unapproved medical use, and athletes can take them without being detected.
This is a hormone that the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands produce, and the body changes it naturally to estradiol in women and testosterone in men. It is only available in form of prescriptions and is tightly controlled in supply.
Many bodybuilding magazines and manufacturers alike say the chemical can enhance the healing rates and ability of the athlete to train harder, but it is illegal in the United States. Scientific studies also dispute the effectiveness of the drug – they prove that it does not increase testosterone, and your muscles do not become stronger as you use it.
Its side effects in men include shrinking of the testicles, acne, enlargement of the breast, and reduction in sperm production. In women, it can cause acne and masculinization. In both women and men, the drug can lead to the increase of bad cholesterol (LDL), putting you at a greater risk of stroke and heart disease.
Human growth hormones
This is also referred to as gonadotropin, and athletes consume it to enhance their general performance and muscle mass. However, studies on the substance show that it does not really improve both of these aspects.
The risks of using it include weakness of the muscles, pain in the joints, high blood pressure, impaired regulation of glucose, problems in vision, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
This is among the hormones that are used to treat anemia symptoms in individuals with severe kidney failure. It works by increasing production of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which also means it boosts oxygen supply to the muscles. It is particularly used by endurance athletes for this reason.
However, its inappropriate usage in these cases increases the risk of thrombotic issues and fatalities, including stroke, pulmonary embolism and heart attacks.
The final word
There are more performance-enhancing drugs than we have mentioned in the article, and athletes all use them for the same purposes – boosting their performance in sports. Even though there are supposed achievements after using these substances, their long-term effects are still unclear, and the short-term use carries many risks. No matter what angle you look at it, using these drugs is a risky thing, and they are best avoided.