The desperation for a good-looking body and better performance in sporting activities and enduring physical exercises is pushing a generation to the use of steroids. This has led a section of the young population to grow with fake bodies, which sink faster than they grow, reports Sarmad Dev
A massive upsurge is being reported in the use of anabolic steroids in Kashmir. It is booming not at a lesser scale than psychoactive intravenous drugs. Steroid users mistake its use as less dangerous than drugs but it is not.
Insiders in the fitness and well being sector said the sections within the gym goers and even athletes are using anabolic steroids. Most of the preparations are available within the gyms or nearby pharmacies.
People taking these substances say these cheap things makes the hard process of working out and recovery fast and easy. “If a person can do 10 push-ups in one set, using steroids can make the same person do 100 without any effort,” one insider said. “In sporting events, using performance enhancers can give the athlete a big gap in the strength and reflexes.”
Steroids are manmade hormones, which give users a blast of energy in physical exercises including workouts and sports. It helps in faster muscle gain and to get an edge over their peers who do not use it. Almost in all countries, the use of steroids is banned because of the unfair advantage it gives to the people who use it and also because it has side effects on health, which can be anything between hair loss and death.
Even though some people go off of using steroids unscathed, but that is less than 10 per cent of the total world population.
Steroids come in many forms, mainly injections and supplements. Some of these are derived from other animals including horses. One steroid derived from an Africa plant, Triterpenes, is nearly impossible to test in a Banned Substance Test held by various sporting organisations.
These are called Erythropotien (EPO) substances that increases the red blood cell count in the body. Eventually, their use leads to thickening of blood leading to severe complications, such as heart attacks, and diabetes.
The User Takes
“The main goal of teenagers is to own a fantastic body and get all the attention and their gym trainers, being less-professional, suggest them steroids,” a former national cricketer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. “When I reached the peak of my bodybuilding and couldn’t bulk up more, the gym owners suggested me steroids and I injected them into my body.”
The player admitted a lot of side effects including insomnia, vomiting, loss of appetite and rage, during which he would suddenly become aggressive and violent towards anyone. “I got into a scuffle over a phone call when I was modelling in Chandigarh and in the rage, I got my ticket to Kashmir to fight with him (as I did not know), my mind was badly affected by steroids. So after doing a couple of cycles I promised myself to never indulge in such things ever again and since then I have been natural.’’
The cricketer said “almost all gyms” are into steroid recommendations.
A mixed martial artist from Kashmir who has trained Muay Thai from Thailand also had a run with steroid abuse.
“Steroids are abundantly and easily available,” the artist said. “Gyms do not usually give or recommend this stuff to beginners but the willing users can start as early as after one month of enrolment. Many of these steroids are DST based which means they boost up one’s testosterone levels, there’s Dianabol, commonly known as D-Ball, Anabar, Drostanolone propionate, known as Masteron, DHT and it all helps in different aspects of one’s physique.’’
The artist advised against its use at least till a person does not cross 35 years of age. It could be used under proper expert advice.
“I was a beast when I was on steroids. I used to score at least two to three goals every match. But it took a toll on my health after a few months of doing the steroid cycle,” Farraz, a resident of Rajbagh and an ex-footballer said. “ I flew to Turkey and suddenly my bones grew weaker, got erectile dysfunction, mood swings, pimples, you name it and I had it. Eventually, I had to leave the love of my life, the football.”
A Trainer Says
“Steroids are designed to act to reduce inflammation and tone body as per the requirement,” Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, Club Manager and Head Trainer at Anytime Fitness Srinagar, said. “Intake of steroids in Kashmir is booming for the last 10 years especially among teenagers who are keen to build their body in lesser time, neglecting its side effects in near future.”
Bhat said the desperation to look good, fit and attractive is slowly killing a generation. “The impulsive decision usually causes both temporary and permanent injury in them as their bodies are still developing and are at heightened risk,” Bhat said. “Steroids mimic the actions of male sex hormone, the testosterone, promotes the growth of cells in increasing or maintaining male physical characteristics, especially in muscles.”
The protracted use actually results in the creation of a completely different body figure. Boys may experience the development of breast tissue and shrinkage of the testes and girls could experience the development of masculine qualities, such as body and facial hair and menstrual irregularities. The most common side-effects, however, are mood swings and aggression.
A study, Prevalence of health supplement use and androgenic anabolic steroid abuse among athletes in Jammu and Kashmir, carried out by doctors, Khawar Khan and Rabbanie Tariq, assessed 214 gym-goes across the erstwhile state in 2018. ’ They belonged to sub-25 years age group.
The study found that 38.32 per cent of male and female gym-goers had used health or protein-based supplements of which androgenic anabolic steroids were at 7.1 per cent. The study recommended an urgent need for educating these athletes and gym-goers about the long and short term risks of using steroids.
For gym or sporting injuries, people have started taking SARMS (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators), which people are not supposed to take, the study said, insisting that these substances being less dangerous than steroids are harmful to the human body.
Endocrinologist, Dr Abdul Hamid Zagar, who earlier headed SKIMS, Soura said not many people come to him for steroid-related issue treatment. But the use of steroids is pretty common now as people use them for muscle and stamina building. People consume protein-based supplements, he said.
“We give steroids to patients who are in need of it and directed use of the substance is fine, but I have been warning people since the eighties about the misuse of these drugs, although at that time we had substances like growth hormones,” Dr Zargar said. “I am scared of this drug. It can cause long term effects on the body such as diabetes, bone loss, osteoporosis, testicular problems, and impotency.”
Dr Zaragr said the human body creates almost three per cent of the steroids itself but if you bring this hormone in through other substances, your body will stop producing it and can affect insulin receptors in the, causing thyroid and damages to the immune system.
Asked why steroid use has grown rapidly, Dr Zargar said, “Mainly because of peer pressure, depression and even coronavirus, which has made people susceptible to take such measures.”
Abandon The Addiction
Steroids are cheap explosive energy that instils a fake persona. Sections within Kashmir use it to get away from tense situations or to stay away from drug abuse. Ideally, the experts insist, there is no requirement for steroid use. After a specific age, and if it is genuinely required less harmful substances could be used on recommendation by the doctors.
Even though the steroid laced substances easily available in the market do not fall under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, there is a requirement of a serious campaign to address the market – the gym owners, trainers, potential users and pharmacists.