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Steroids are a big talking point in the bodybuilding scene, and they have been for a while. But the recent TikTok 'natty or not' trend, which tries to figure out if an impressive physique has been achieved naturally - or, to put it bluntly - without steroids, has thrown another spotlight on it.
Many gymgoers and bodybuilders who feel they've reached their growth and performance ceiling entertain the idea of taking steroids as a way to enhance their progress. And this temptation is understandable, given that steroids seemingly offer impactful changes overnight.
There is a lot of misinformation about steroids, which can cloud your judgment and even impact your health. Thankfully, we're here to help.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the legality of steroids in the US.
What are anabolic steroids?
So what exactly are steroids?
Steroids are artificial synthetic substances with similar characteristics to the male hormone testosterone. Because steroids mimic this critical hormone that helps produce muscle growth and definition, they stimulate muscle tissue within your body, making them grow larger and react better to exercise.
There are multiple ways for you to take steroids. You can take steroids in pill form or by injecting the steroids directly into your tissue with a hypodermic needle. They're also growing in popularity as creams or gels which you can apply to your skin.
Although steroids can help people grow mass and reduce fat, other parts of your body also react to the substance, which can cause various unwanted and undesirable side effects.
That said, steroids do have benefits within a medical setting, and they can be prescribed by a medical professional. They may be used to treat a hormonal imbalance and to help heal injuries faster.
However, due to the potentially damaging effects of steroids, a steroid prescription is often treated as a last resort because of the risks and side effects.
Why are Steroids illegal?
Steroids are illegal in the US.
You're not allowed to use them, and there are severe consequences if caught with them (more on that later).
In 1990 anabolic steroids were made illegal in the US, and for multiple good reasons.
Like many other drugs, steroids have long been associated with organized crime in the US. It’s another drug available to trade and deal with around the world, and if they weren’t restricted, it would likely have contributed to the growth of further crime in the US and worldwide.
Moreover, because you can take many forms of steroids with needles, it increases the risk of users contracting HIV. As a result, making steroids illegal helped protect the American population and sought to reduce the amount of HIV and aids cases which grew exponentially in the 1980s - the decade before steroids were outlawed.
Another reason steroids were made illegal - perhaps most significantly - is that the substance came with many physical and mental side effects.
Both psychosis and mania are common mental issues attributed to steroid abuse, and some physical side effects can include organ damage, among many other issues.
The side effects of steroids
Although steroids can help a person grow mass and muscle, a catalog of side effects and issues can manifest after steroid usage.
Some of the most common side effects of the drug include
- Reduced sperm count and infertility.
- Other sexual issues: shrunken testicles and erectile dysfunction.
- Issues with your appearance include severe acne, which can cause scarring and hair loss. Many men also develop male breasts.
- Heart attacks and strokes: as it puts your vascular system under strain
- Increased blood pressure to the point of hypertension
- Liver and kidney failure
- An increased risk of prostate cancer
- Mood swings, manic behavior, and delusions
The side effects for women taking steroids are also severe. They can experience issues such as a deepened voice, problems with the menstrual cycle, excess facial and body hair growth, and breast reduction. In extreme cases, women can see deformations in their genitals. This issue results from the steroids acting like increased testosterone, meaning you can develop more masculine features.
If you're an adolescent, taking steroids can stunt your growth as it causes premature aging of the bones, limiting how much bigger you can get.
- Related content: Steroids and fertility: can steroids impact male fertility
What happens if you have steroids in your possession?
Like other drugs, steroids are illegal at the federal and state levels. Therefore, the consequences of having them in your possession can be enormous.
For instance, you could be handed a year-long prison sentence by having the drug on you and receive a $1,000 fine if it is your first offense.
The consequences can be even worse if you hold a sizable number of steroids (when it can be reasonably assumed you intend to sell or distribute the drug). If the authorities believe you to be trafficking steroids, you can be given up to 5 years in prison and a massive $250,000 fine, even if it is a first-time offense.
The punishment for having anabolic steroids that are not part of a prescribed treatment from a doctor is massive, meaning that it's not worth it for a little extra pump.
Thankfully, other options can help you enhance your workouts and get bigger legally and safely.
What are my options if I want the effects of steroids?
Even after knowing the risks, both legally and to your health, many people still opt to take steroids because they're desperate to experience the enhancing effects they give you.
However, if you want to take steroids to help improve your physique, other, safer options can be just as effective without the consequences. Indeed, there are plenty of solutions to help you hit your goals naturally without dealing with the devastating side effects steroids can give you.
One option is to focus on your diet. What you eat plays a significant role in the amount of mass you're able to build and grow. So, if you're in a bulking period, don't just focus on getting the calories in. Instead, try to get the calories while eating food that is good for muscle growth, such as protein and meat.
In addition, if you need help seeing the process you want to see, examine your existing exercise routine, and see if it's right for your goals. Your workouts should be hard enough that it breaks down your muscle fibers so that they can regrow bigger. Aim for around ten reps and three exercises for each muscle group.
Of course, if you feel like you need an extra helping hand, there are supplements you can take that have the positive effects of steroids without many negatives. These are known as steroid alternatives.
The best steroid alternative for you…
There are plenty of options you can turn to if you want to aid with your bulking or cutting or if you want to develop more strength without messing with illegal and dangerous products.
We have a wide array of natural steroid alternatives that can help you get the job done without messing with the law. Most steroid alternatives will mimic the illegal steroid they're designed to replace, making it easier to find one that works for you and fulfills the purpose you need to meet.
When looking into steroid alternatives, keep an eye out on the ingredients used, as getting substances containing the right ingredients means they're a premium product. For example, if you're looking for a Dianabol alternative (a specific steroid used for bulking) make sure it has a high amount of MSM, which our D-Bal option has.
When searching for steroid alternatives, choose an option with reduced side effects. For example, finding an alternative that doesn't raise your blood pressure or isn't toxic to your liver or kidney means you can use these replacement supplements without risking your health.
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