>Steroid abuse is on the increase again.
Popular some years ago, anabolic steroids fell into disfavour as their side-effects became apparent and “roid-heads” became objects of ridicule.
Sadly, a new generation – one perhaps not yet fully exposed to the downside of steroids – is being seduced by the false promise of a shortcut to a perfect body.
In their own time these youngsters will discover the truth – that a steroid-inflated body is about as convincing and impressive as a fake tan and that the personal cost of abuse can be horrendous.
Even if the purity of black market steroids could be guaranteed (it can’t), abusers run the risk of detrimental impacts on their personalities and behaviour. “Roid rage” is just the tip of an iceberg of psychological symptoms that produce the opposite of the self-esteem and self-assurance that many abusers are seeking.
The physical symptoms are potentially dreadful too. Bodies out of proportion, unwelcome “man boobs”, shrunken genitals and acne explosions are just the beginning. Internal damage is prevalent and can be irreversible.
To the extent that steroid abuse reflects anxiety among young men about their body image, it represents a growing problem that demands serious attention. Like eating disorders in both young men and women, the problem is a symptom of an increasingly prevalent mental health issue.
Hospital admissions and many social studies indicate that growing numbers of young people are so anxious and depressed about their apparent failure to conform to the socially approved body image that they will endanger their physical health in an attempt to attain their perceived “ideal”.
It is hard to isolate a single cause for this trend, but poor diet, coupled with widespread obesity and, ironically, publicity campaigns designed to combat obesity are involved in the mix. The promotion in the entertainment media of a narrow range of body types as “ideal” has frequently been blamed for inducing body image anxiety in females. Nowadays it might just as fairly be blamed for producing the same effects in males.