Australian Institute of Criminology

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Anabolic and androgenic steroids can be produced naturally or derived from synthetic sources. Commercially produced steroids can be placed into three groups - those produced for human consumption, those for veterinary use and those produced illegally.

Steroids are used to increase muscle bulk and strength and to enable longer and harder athletic training sessions. Some users take steroids for cosmetic (body image) reasons.

Steroids increase protein synthesis, promoting growth of muscles and bones. They reduce the recovery time needed between training sessions and enable athletes to train more intensively for longer periods.

Side effects of steroid use can include hair loss, liver problems, insomnia, acne, headaches, jaundice, hypertension and high cholesterol. Steroids can permanently stunt the growth of adolescents. Men who use steroids can experience shrinking testes, gynaecomastia (enlarged breasts) and prostate and fertility problems. Women can experience clitoral enlargement, shrinking breasts, permanent deepening of the voice, menstrual irregularities and growth of body and facial hair.

Psychological effects can include enhanced self-esteem and euphoria, but also increased aggression and irritability, mood swings, changes in libido, paranoia and depression. Psychological dependence on steroids is possible. Withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, severe depression, insomnia, lethargy, nausea, headaches and cravings.

Steroids may be injected intramuscularly, taken orally or rubbed on the skin as a cream.

The possession, use and supply of steroids, other than by prescription from a medical practitioner, dentist or veterinarian is illegal throughout Australia as is unauthorised importation.

The use of steroids by competitors in most sports is banned.

Steroid users generally fall within four categories - athletes for performance enhancement, body builders to increase muscle mass and definition, people within the security industry and adolescents for body image reasons.

Users may attempt to gain drugs by convincing a doctor to prescribe them, via mail order or the Internet from overseas, from veterinarians by supplying false information or from local dealers in gyms etc. There is some evidence that outlaw motorcycle gangs are involved in the dealing and distribution of steroids in this country.

Street Names

Roids, Gear, Juice, Vets' drugs, Caseys, Gym candy, Pumpers, Andro, Stackers