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Steroid Abuse and Use

By the manner in-which anabolic androgenic steroids are often perceived in popular culture the issues of steroid abuse and use are often viewed as one in the same. Steroid abuse and use are often grouped together simply because many believe if you are supplementing with anabolic steroids, regardless of the amounts you are abusing them; in the eyes of many there is no manner of supplementation that is outside the realm of abuse. The question we have presented is relatively straightforward; is this way of thinking correct, is it to be justified?

 In the United States, in many ways anabolic androgenic steroids have been in the eyes of many aptly labeled public enemy number one; just look at the amount of time, the money spent and the manner in-which congress has handled the issue. During the Major League Baseball steroid hearings, congress spent as much time if not more on the issue as they did on the war in Iraqi, and by this, if this was justified it's easy to quantify steroid abuse and use as one in the same. However, this presents another crucial question; is the law justified, does a law because it exists automatically give it justification?

To answer these questions, we must look at the law as it pertains to anabolic androgenic steroids. From there, we must examine how the law distinguishes between steroid use and abuse, but we cannot end the discussion there; not by a long shot. We must also look at the other side of the argument; we must examine the issue of performance use but more importantly what others in the medical field have found that contribute to them residing on the opposite side of the fence; we're referring to the pro-steroid group. Through this discussion, we will be able to distinguish between steroid use and abuse and with any luck be able to put aside any misinformation or biased belief you may have leaving you with only the truth.

United States Anabolic Steroid Law:

In the United States, anabolic androgenic steroids are classified as Schedule III Controlled Substances by way of the Steroid Control Acts of 1990 and 2004. By this legislation, it is against the law to manufacture, sell, purchase or possess anabolic androgenic steroids without a viable medical purpose. Violation of the Steroid Control Acts is a felony offence.

In the U.S. anabolic androgenic steroids are manufactured by licensed pharmacies, prescribed by physicians to patients who possess a legitimate medical need; performance enhancement is not considered such a requirement. To obtain a prescription, purchase or possess anabolic androgenic steroids common medical needs such as, hormone deficiencies, combating muscle wasting diseases, treating severe burn victims, and to promote ones desire for a transgender lifestyle pretty much cover the legal means. Through these means, we have the only ways by-which anabolic androgenic steroids can be manufactured, prescribed, sold, purchased and possessed.

Steroid Abuse & Use by Law:

In the United States, any physician who prescribes anabolic androgenic steroids for the purpose of performance enhancement has by law crossed the line of steroid abuse and use, but it does not end there. Any physician who prescribes anabolic androgenic steroids in amounts deemed unneeded to treat a specific medical need has broken the law that defines steroid abuse and use; in this case although medical need was present treatment went beyond what is deemed necessary. Further, although obvious this can lead to serious legal ramifications for the physician at hand, but it can also significantly affect the patient in a negative legal manner.

Understanding the Law:

As they exist, anabolic androgenic steroids are classified as Schedule III and deemed justified in this classification as a means of protection. By the legislation's intent, the design is to protect individuals from the dangers of anabolic steroids. Further, and this was abundantly clear by the 2004 legislation the law stands to identify steroid abuse and use as a way to keep competitive sports pure and clean. Commonly this argument stretches even further into the realm of adolescents. It is well-accepted on both sides of the fence that anabolic androgenic steroids are extremely dangerous to children, and by the legislation's objective, or rather purported intent, the legislation exists to protect children from the dangers of steroids. Although perhaps a little too concise, this is the basis of understanding, and as we will see there are several questions raised as well as holes; you may have already picked out a few yourself.

Passage of the Law:

During the original steroid hearings leading to the 1990 Act, several medical and law enforcement agencies were called to testify in-order for congress to possess the information needed to pass a sound final judgment. Among such agencies were the AMA, FDA and DEA as well as several others. In order to Schedule anabolic androgenic steroids, congress was charged with providing proof that these hormones cause mental and physical addictions or dependency, as well as possessing traits that alter the mind in its decision making process. This is the requirement of all items before they can be Scheduled as is the law under by-which congress created and has long since held to; that is until now.

During the hearings, the AMA stated there was no medical evidence that supported this end; specifically, there was no medical evidence that anabolic androgenic steroids caused or created a physical or mental dependency or altered mental function. Through these findings, as well as basic health related issues, the AMA stated "we vehemently oppose the ban" and the statement was echoed by many of the other agencies including the DEA. By the findings of the AMA and others, the issue of steroid use and abuse was about to be blurred by congress, as the Scheduling of the hormones was against the basic premise of the law and presented no viable medical support.

Steroid Abuse & Use Defined by Performance:

In the world of performance enhancement, the issue of steroid abuse and use takes on a decidedly different tone. By law steroid abuse is defined by any use that is outside direct medical need but this is not the case with performance enhancement. Performance enhancer's supplement with anabolic steroids for the same reasons anyone would take a vitamin or any other item you might buy at your local supplement or health food store; to simply enhance performance and quality of life. Simply supplementing with anabolic steroids is not considered steroid abuse, and use is deemed justified.

In the world of performance enhancement, this issue of steroid abuse and use is defined by harm; so as long as no harm is done to the individual or those around him then the individual has not crossed the line into abuse. Some even take it a step further stating that even if damage is done, if it is by their own hand, so as long as others are not harmed they have not crossed the line. While the first argument speaks for itself, the second is a bit more complex. If you are supplementing with anabolic steroids and causing yourself harm, although no one else may be harmed you are abusing them but here we can make a case surrounding the realm of liberty.

Justified Liberty:

In the United States, we are all granted liberty by law that is protected under the constitution. Although this may seem simplistic to many and echo an old elementary school lesson, it is still worthy of discussion, as it is by this simple passage to follow that we live and exist as we do today. You've heard it a million times, perhaps even more; a simple passage from the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." In this passage is the basis by-which many performance enhancers base their use and define steroid abuse and use. Absolutely, there are many who may not understand that their belief stems from this passage but the justified liberty they feel they are warranted can largely be summed up by the previous words.

The argument is simple; we are all granted life, in that life we are granted the liberty to pursue what makes us happy. As long as the liberty we are granted, and the happiness we seek does not infringe on the life, liberty and happiness of others we are justified in our actions as they are protected by the liberty we have been granted. For example, if an individual supplements with 200mg of testosterone or 2,000mg of testosterone, if his actions harm no one he is justified and protected by liberty. Of course, as stated it can be taken a step further; if the individual supplements in this manner, causes no harm to anyone yet causes harm to himself is still justified and protected by liberty.

Herein lies the problem. In many ways by passing the Anabolic Steroid Control Acts congress has deemed it has the right to protect the individual from himself. Although, by the testimony of its own medical and law enforcement agencies who spoke against this need, congress held to this supposed justification. If this way of thinking is truly justified, if congress possess the constitutional right to protect the individual from himself whether the need is present or not then congress can do so with anything; but this is not the case. Smoking is legal, alcohol is allowed, and both have been proven to be far more damaging to individual health than most any anabolic androgenic steroid.

Does all this make the performance enhancers argument sound? If it doesn't than nothing will, but to give it even more backing let's try this on for size. In the United States, each year over 16,000 people die due to the use of NSAID painkillers such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen; how many people die from anabolic androgenic steroid use? Since their inception, nearly over 100 years ago there has yet to be one recorded death directly linked to anabolic androgenic steroid use. If you're beliefs and perceptions surrounding the issue of steroid abuse and use have not been altered by this discussion, than it's likely you're lost to emotionally driven bias. Further, keep in mind we haven't even touched issues surrounding obesity in America and by simple logic if anabolic androgenic steroids can be Scheduled so can fast food; are you at least beginning to see the problem?

What does it all Mean?

By law, the issue of steroid abuse and use is defined by medical need; regardless of personal desire any use beyond medical purposes deemed viable by law is considered abuse. While this is the law, the argument of liberty presents a formidable adversary yet because the topic of anabolic steroids rest on such an emotional foundation this basic premise is often ignored. Of course, many will certainly assert it doesn't matter. Often you'll find those who genuinely don't care, they don't supplement with anabolic steroids and don't care who does, but they'll simply state the law is the law and as it does not affect them they are fine with it. What about the rest of the population; what about the over six-million American adults who supplement with anabolic steroids for the sole purpose of performance enhancement? If steroid abuse and use are largely defined by law as one in the same regarding enhancement, does that simply make it a good law simply because it exists; to borrow the words of St. Augustine later echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King JR "An unjust law is no law."