Side Effects Associated with Cessation of Anabolic Steroids

The San Diego Union-Tribune published a very interesting article about the side effects that occur when anabolic steroids are discontinued at the end of a cycle. The writer, Mark Zeigler, is of course talking about the anabolic steroid induced hypogonadism (ASIH) that occurs when endogenous production of testosterone is suppressed.

Bodybuilders who use anabolic steroids are very familiar with this problem; it is widely recognized and widely discussed in the bodybuilding community. Various doctors, writers and bodybuilders have offered possible solutions. It is accepted within many bodybuilding circles that ASIH can be largely minimized if not completely avoided.

But nowhere in Zeigler’s article is there any suggestion that the ASIH can be avoided or treated. It is not necessarily the fault of the author; the medical profession does not recognize the treatment of ASIH; the government does not recognize treatment of ASIH. Consequently they do not approve of treatment for the side effects related to the cessation of anabolic steroids.

This just baffles me! Why would the side effects that come along with stopping steroid use, especially if they are as dangerous as claimed, be left untreated especially if that treatment is readily available? I mean it is no secret that Taylor Hooton’s parents and doctors took him off of anabolic steroids and within 6 weeks he committed suicide. Texas has passed legislation claiming “clinical depression [occurs] when steroid use is stopped.” Kirk Brower, M.D. has told Congress during the baseball hearings that “depressive episodes and suicide attempts are most likely to occur within three months of stopping AAS use.”

If there is a treatment to prevent or eliminate the side effects associated with cessation of anabolic steroids, it should be promoted and encouraged by the government and medical community. But why isn’t it?

(1) The steroid prohibition movement is about morality and not about health. To paraphrase Radley Balko, it is better to let a steroid user suffer (and even die) rather than administer a medical treatment that could eliminate steroid side effects and remove threat of suicide. The war against steroids has taken on the characteristics of the overarching war on drugs. Balko explains the drug policy:

This is the mentality of your modern drug warrior. We’re fighting drug use not because it’s dangerous or harmful, but because they believe drug use is, in and of itself, immoral.

Today’s drug war isn’t about saving lives, it’s about saving souls.

(2) If the side effects of steroids are successfully treated, it would encourage steroid users to continue using steroids. This is probably correct, but is that a worse outcome than making steroid users suffer for making a supposedly immoral choice? The Office Of National Drug Control Policy has a strong moral philosophy and opposition to harm reduction when it comes to drug use.

These so-called “harm reduction” strategies are poor public policy because their underlying philosophy involves giving up on those who can successfully recover from drug addiction.

Let’s abandon this morality play and truly focus on the health consequences of anabolic steroid use.

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