magine, for a moment, that you were approached by a friend, colleague or co-worker, and asked for your position stand on the current legal status of anabolic steroids. How would you reply? Would you say that the possession, use or distribution of anabolic steroids
should be illegal without a doctors prescription? Would you say that they should be de-criminalized, and that current laws are in need of reform? Or, would you even have a position stand?
It is important to not mistake a position stand for an opinion, as there is a great difference between the two. A position stand is a stance based on evidence derived from both common sense observations and research. An opinion, on the other hand, is a belief based often on simple desire. Many people who hold opinions do so even when conclusive and convincing evidence is presented to refute their belief. This should not be surprising, as psychology knows this phenomenon well. It is called belief perseverance.
Imagine also that as a bodybuilder who lives and promotes the lifestyle, you have been given the opportunity to not only inform an audience about anabolic steroids, but to also refute common beliefs, and then persuade them that de-criminalization of anabolic steroids
is a necessity. To add to this difficulty, the setting you would be speaking in would be one of the top Universities in the country, and the time to speak would be limited to 6 minutes. What would you say?
Regardless of the situation in which you find yourself [the first, the second, or any other], the important facts on the issue remain the same and, if you are a bodybuilder, it is inevitable that at some time during your career the issue of anabolic steroids
will arise. When the discussion of steroids arises and you are talking with other less knowledgeable bodybuilders or members of the public, you need to be informed.
If you lack the knowledge to support your views, or worse, lack the ability to organize and communicate that knowledge in a way that is understandable to your audience, you will have lost an opportunity to promote the lifestyle to members of the public. Even worse, you will have missed an opportunity to challenge the pre-conceptions and misknowledge many have about anabolic steroids.
On March 13, 2003 I had the opportunity to speak to my fellow colleagues at one of the top Universities in the country. I seized the opportunity to challenge their beliefs about anabolic steroids, and to refute many of the myths surrounding these drugs. I present for your consideration the full text of my speech. Consider how you may use these ideas when speaking to someone about steroids.
Pill poppers. Needle users. Drug abusers. Addicts. What image comes to your mind when you hear these phrases? If you are like many people, you probably think of someone who struggles with addiction, a law-breaker, someone who lives on the edges of society, conducting their deeds in secret back-alley deals, wanting to escape the public eye.
Steroid user. What image are you seeing now? If it is an image of a pill-popper, a needle user, a drug abuser or an addict, you are not alone in thinking this.
Many believe steroids are "street drugs" comparable to the likes of cocaine, heroine, or crack, and many people think they are just as addictive and deadly. Has it ever occurred to you that if this is your idea of a steroid user, you may be mistaken?
From my 5 years of bodybuilding, my 5 years of studying the human body, my 2 years of personal training, and my time writing for Bodybuilding.com, the world's #1 bodybuilding website, I have come to understand a lot about muscle building steroids, and also to realize that current laws are in need of change.
I will be talking about why anabolic steroids
should de-criminalized and three issues that should bear foremost on your mind when you consider this subject. These issues are:
- 1. Steroid facts, what anabolic steroids are and the benefits and drawbacks of use.
2. The difference between street drugs and muscle building steroids.
3. Why you should care whether or not they are available to you without penalty under the law and what you can do to help the de-criminalization effort.
Despite the fact that many people use the phrase "anabolic steroids" many, in actuality, have no idea what anabolic steroids
are. Simply, steroids are natural substances made and used by the body's hormone system. Some precursors of steroids are found in the needles of pine trees; so if any of you come in smelling like pine trees after this, the secret will be out!
Currently under Canadian and American law, the possession, use and distribution of anabolic steroids
without a doctors prescription. In Canada anabolic steroids
are illegal under the Controlled Foods and Substances Act, Schedule VI.
The drawbacks of excessive steroid abuse include but are not limited to:
Contrasting these side effects of abuse are the effects noticed with moderate steroid usage. These include:
- Baldness in males
- Facial hair growth in women
- Shrinking of the gonads in males, enlargement of, and increased sensitivity of the clitoris of females
- Buildup of fatty deposits behind the nipples in males
- Toxicity to the liver
- Psychological addiction possible
- Positive affects on mood patterns
- Positive affects on sleep patterns
- Positive affects on muscular development
- Prevention of symptoms of arthritis and depression
- Strengthening of bones and prevention of thinning of bones, aka osteoporosis
Here I present to you 2 facts about steroids that may alter your definition of a "steroid user".
Steroids are hormones made by the body naturally.
Our bodies already use and make "steroids" We are steroid users.
If we eat fat we are eating the products needed to make steroids.
Our bodies already use and make "steroids" We are steroid users.
So when you look in the mirror, understand that the image staring back at you is of a person who makes, possesses and uses, anabolic steroids
on a daily basis! If you have muscles your body has used muscle-building steroids to get them.
At this point you are probably surprised, and I was also when I first began to study this subject. You may be asking yourself "well what is the difference between street drugs and anabolic steroids?" There are many differences, and it is important that you do not mistake one drug for the other. Do not mistake anabolic steroids
for street drugs!
It has been suggested that that steroids are as harmful and addictive as street drugs but no evidence exists that indicates that steroids stimulate the pleasure centers in brain as do alcohol, nicotine and cocaine or heroine. In fact, biological addiction to steroids is unlikely when they are used correctly, although it may be argued that psychological addictions are possible.
For your consideration here are some facts that you need to consider when trying to understand the difference between street drugs and anabolic steroids:
- Small amounts of steroids do not cause addiction, small amounts of street drugs do
- Small amounts of steroids cause no damage or permanent injury, small amounts of street drugs do
- Large amounts of steroids cause damage, most of which is reversible; street drugs cause damage, all of which is not reversible
- Anabolic steroids were given to concentration camp survivors after world war two as live saving medicine to help them use protein more efficiently because they were so starved; street drugs were never given to concentration camp survivors
- Steroids are given to burn victims and victims of near-fatal accidents; street drugs are never given to burn victims or victims of near fatal accidents
- Steroids are given to AIDS patients by doctors; street drugs are never given to aids patients by doctors
- Street Drugs Devices of death that cause destruction
- Steroids are given by doctors to near-death smokers to extend life; street drugs are not given to near-death smokers by doctors
Despite these points, I am aware that many would still contend that steroids are destructive. However according the Centers for Disease Control, between the years 1990-1994 an average of 430,700 people died annually from smoking. The same report, when speaking of anabolic steroids
states, "There is little evidence to show that their use will cause long term detrimentâ€¦"
On a personal note, my uncle began smoking at the age of 10. Before his death at age 69 several years ago resulting from the collapse and failure of his liver, kidneys and heart, brought about by his years of excessive smoking, he was given anabolic steroids
to extend, save, and contribute to the quality his life. The very drugs that are ridiculed, vilified and misrepresented in the media allowed me to have those final times with my uncle. Steroids kept him alive so we could go on fishing trips, and they gave us time to tell each other that we loved one another, before he died. In fact, the use of anabolic steroids
added a full two years onto his life. That time may not seem like a lot of time to many of you, but to the people who loved and continue to love him, that was a gift and blessing that money cannot buy. That time was everything.
So why should you care? What does it matter to you if anabolic steroids
are decriminalized? After all, you are not elderly and are not, presumably, suffering from a terminal or chronic illness. Why should you act to help the de-criminalization process?
"Steroids are not street drugs, because when used in moderate dosages they heal, and do not destroy lives."
The first reason that you should care is because this is an issue that is fundamentally about freedom. It is about the freedom to choose to use substances that will improve the length and quality of your life. Should you be denied substances that, when used correctly, are life improving substances, while others can have free access to products like cigarettes that that when used as intended, kill? Should you have to be on separate drugs to treat arthritis, depression and impotence? Why should you have to take Viagra or an arthritis medication that will eat away at your stomach lining, while moderate doses of testosterone would fix all three problems previously mentioned, with no side effects?
The de-criminalization of anabolic steroids
should happen! They improve quality of life. Steroids are not street drugs, because when used in moderate dosages they heal, and do not destroy lives. We should all care about and support the de-criminalization of anabolic steroids
and stand up for the right to choose the best of what medicine has to offer, because one day we may find ourselves needing these drugs for legitimate purposes.
Lobby your political representatives to move toward de-criminalization. The quality and length of your life may one day depend on it! " ]
My speech was very well received by the audience and many were persuaded to at least soften their opposition to free access to these drugs. At the beginning of the speech many people, when asked, voiced stiff opposition to the de-criminalization of these drugs. After the speech, no one did, and many moderately agreed or had moved from strong opposition to a position of not being sure how they felt. That is, at least, a start, and is progress for our lifestyle.
It is important to realize that the de-criminalization effort will not be won in miles, but in inches. Victory will not occur by trying to "prove" how great steroids are, but in refutation of misknowledge, and by replacing that misknowledge in a non-threatening way with genuine fact that speaks to the intellect of all who listen.
Next time that someone asks you about anabolic steroids, be a strong representative for our sport by preaching moderation; not abuse, tolerance to opposing viewpoints; not close-mindedness, and most importantly stick to your guns and base your position stand on fact, and do so in a passive but assertive and determined way. In doing THIS you will be doing yourself and all bodybuilders with whom you share a common humanity, a service. Happy lifting!