Steroids are any substances that are taken to improve athletic performance, fight off fatigue, improve physical appearance, and increase weight and strength. Because of its effects on the body athletes are known to be primary users of steroids.
The main reason why some athletes use steroids in doses 10 to 100 times higher than medically prescribed for therapeutic use is because it builds up muscle, increases strength, speed, and metabolism, may delay fatigue, and even support the body’s healing capabilities (Rowe, 2011). Though the said advantages are music to the ears of athletes and their trainers or coaches, the side-effects are heavy and possibly permanent or irreversible which should be reason enough for them to have second thoughts about pursuing steroids in the first place. In men, steroid abuse could result in shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count thereby infertility, male-pattern baldness and breast development when they stop among others. Effect of steroid abuse in women include development of a deeper voice, excessive growth of body hair, enlargement of the clitoris, have menstrual cycle changes and like in men, they may have male-pattern baldness as well. There are also non-gender specific effects of steroids such as an increased chance of developing liver cancer, psychological and emotional problems coined as steroid rage (Dillingham, 2004).
While many are attracted to the short-term benefits of these drugs many doctors and physicians are unanimous in saying that there are long-term side effects in taking steroids. They are also in agreement in saying that the long-term side effects outweigh any short-term benefits. For this reason, many doctors are imprisoned for prescribing steroids to athletes who are seeking to enhance their performance. In fact, a number of doctors have had their licenses taken for being caught prescribing steroids to athletes without any medical necessity.
Should doctors be prevented from prescribing steroids to athletes? Is it the duty of doctors and physicians to prevent athletes from gaining access to steroids? It is my argument that doctors and physicians should not be prevented from prescribing steroids to these athletes since it will only cause more harm than good.
First, it will be more harmful for the patient if they will be denied access of performance-enhancing drugs from their own physicians. Common sense dictates that if a person is prevented from getting something, he will find a way to get it from other persons. If physicians will deny athletes the access to performance enhancing their natural reaction is to purchase these products in the black market. They will get these drugs from their peers or from any other individual who can sell these drugs to them. These drugs which are readily available in the black market could be undetectable by tests but they could be extremely harmful to the patient. Considering that there are so many unsafe drugs available in the black market and since there is no physician to advise him on its use, the patient may make a mistake and buy those drugs that are dangerous to his health.
Second, when athletes are denied access to steroids, they will ask somebody else to administer the steroids for them. These persons could be individuals who do not have any knowledge of the dangers of using steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. The physician will not be able to monitor the patient’s use of performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, the patient will be forced to rely on the statements and advice from known performance enhancing drug users. It must be stressed that using performance-enhancing drugs is dangerous by itself. Relying on other drug users on the benefits of these drugs without any physician intervention could be fatal.
Third, athletes who aim to excel in their performance could not be prevented from taking performance enhancing drugs. Considering that the physicians cannot stop their patients from taking steroids, the next best step is to for the physicians to regulate its use with the end in mind of managing the risks associated with its use. In prescribing steroids to the patient, the physician should assess what kind of athlete the patient is. If the patient is someone who is seriously involved in his sport as shown by his intense training and dedication to excel in his field, then he is someone who is most likely using the performance-enhancing drugs to achieve his goal. This type of patient is already familiar with the effects of performance-enhancing drugs and they cannot be dissuaded from using these drugs. The best strategy for these patients is to prescribe the right drugs that will deliver the best result with the least side effect. The physician should also gain the trust of the patients so that he can monitor the patient’s use drugs.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs among athletes is indeed very dangerous. However, it becomes more dangerous and even fatal when administered without the intervention of a licensed physician. At present, the war against the use of performance enhancing drugs makes the situation far worse for these athletes as they are denied the proper advice by competent physicians who understand the risks involved in the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
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