Athletes have many options for increasing their performance, running faster, becoming stronger, looking slimmer, and in general feeling more energized. In fact, it’s not only that they want to experience this in their sports but they may also feel the pressure to do so from the media, the Internet, friends, competitors, coaches, and parents.
The pressure can easily lead to addictions, which creates a difficult journey for an athlete. They may have to enter medical treatment to withdraw from the use of steroids. But if and when they return to working out or performing, it’s essential that they maintain their sobriety. Some athletes may find this difficult because the pressure to perform from external sources won’t go away. For this reason, maintaining sobriety from steroids when an athlete returns to his or her life might require the essential participation at a sober living home.
This was the case with a local man in Los Angeles. At first, he simply wanted to feel better about himself and he thought exercise would do it. As he began to see his weight drop and his performance improve, he developed a regular schedule of lifting weights. Over time, he didn’t want to let go of the physique he developed and he began to take steroids. He admitted to having a compulsive relationship to working out and ingesting steroids to facilitate his performance. Eventually, he went into treatment and upon discharge went straight to a sober living home. Today, he continues to attend their services, although he is at home full time with his family.
Steroids can either be taken orally or injected directly into muscles. Other forms can be applied to the skin as a cream or gel. When abusing the drug, athletes might take doses that are 10 to 100 times greater than medically prescribed doses. The effects can be severe, which include fertility problems, impotence, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart and liver abnormalities. Males might experience their testes shrink and growth in breast tissue, while females might experience irregular menstrual cycles and the growth of facial and body hair. Both genders could experience acne, mood swings, and aggression.
Steroids are sometimes described as anabolic, meaning muscle building, or androgenic, meaning increased male sexual characteristics. The full name for this drug is anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). Steroids are drugs that mimic the male sex hormone testosterone, such as promoting the growth of cells, particularly in the muscles, and enhancing certain masculine characteristics. It’s important to know that it’s a felony to take steroids without a prescription.
Brian Hainline, chief medical officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), reported in an article in USA Today that the mental health of athletes is a serious issue, and that psycho-education is a key component in keeping young athletes healthy. Yet, sadly, the pressures to perform and to look good keep athletes hooked on steroids. For this reason, the mental health community is raising its voice about this and attempting to educate athletes on nutrition and better options for improving performance and staying healthy.
Because of the dangers of depression, treatment for discontinuing a steroid addiction would be comprehensive and multi-faceted. Treatment might include individual and group therapy, medical care, anger management classes, family counseling, and continued care to ensure a long-term, lasting recovery. Likely, this would involve that an athlete attend a rehabilitation center so that he or she could focus on treatment and recovery.
Yet, just like the Los Angeles athlete mentioned above, it would be important to transition to a sober living home upon the completion of rehabilitative treatment. A sober living home can provide the foundation for sobriety, not just in an athlete’s mind and heart, but also throughout life. A halfway house, as they are sometimes called, can be a stepping-stone between the completion of treatment and a full-time return to their sport.
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