Anabolic steroid use can lead to a number of dangerous side effects including liver tumors and cancer, jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), and decreases in HDL (good cholesterol). Other side effects include kidney tumors, severe acne, and trembling. People who inject steroids run the added risk of contracting or transmitting hepatitis or the virus (HIV) that leads to AIDS. In females, anabolic steroids have been associated with a number of adverse effects, some of which appear to be permanent even when drug use is stopped. These include menstrual abnormalities, deepening of voice, shrinkage of breasts, male-pattern baldness, and an increase in sex drive, acne, body hair and clitoris size. Younger steroid users, both male and female, are at risk of permanently halting their linear growth, which could result in shorter stature than nature had intended. An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drug, as evidenced by their continuing to take steroids in spite of physical problems, negative effects on social relations, or nervousness and irritability. Steroid users can experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, and depression.
Awareness and educational efforts are working to help prevent anabolic steroid abuse in schools and communities. The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) and the Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) programs, funded by the NIDA, and supported by the Oregon Health & Science University programs is teaching athletes that they do not need steroids to build powerful muscles and improve athletic performance. These programs provide weight-training and nutrition alternatives, increase healthy behaviors, less likelihood to try steroids, and less likelihood to engage in other dangerous behaviors such as drinking and driving, use of marijuana and alcohol , and and improved body image. Bother Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration endorsed these model prevention programs. 4