Acne is often present. Acne conglobata is a particularly severe form of acne that can develop during steroid abuse or even after the drug has been discontinued. Infections are a common side effect of steroid abuse because of needle sharing and unsanitary techniques used when injecting the drugs into the skin. These are similar risks to IV drug abusers with increased potential to acquire blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS . Skin abscesses may occur at injection sites and may spread to other organs of the body. Endocarditis or an infection of the heart valves is not uncommon.
Laws and Penalties: Concerns over growing illegal AAS abuse by teenagers, and many of the just discussed long-term effects, led Congress in 1991 to place the whole AAS class of drugs into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under this legislation, AAS are defined as any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to T (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth. The possession or sale of AAS without a valid prescription is illegal. Since 1991, simple possession of illegally obtained AAS carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if this is an individual’s first drug offense. The maximum penalty for trafficking (selling or possessing enough to be suspected of selling) is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is the individual’s first felony drug offense. If this is the second felony drug offense, the maximum period of imprisonment and the maximum fine both double. While the above listed penalties are for federal offenses, individual states have also implemented fines and penalties for illegal use of AAS. State executive offices have also recognized the seriousness of AAS abuse and other drugs of abuse in schools. For example, the State of Virginia enacted a law that will allow student drug testing as a legitimate school drug prevention program (48, 49).
Anabolic steroids are composed of testosterone and other substances related to testosterone that promote growth of skeletal muscle, increase hemoglobin concentration, and mediate secondary sexual characteristics. These substances have been in use since the 1930s to promote muscle growth, improve athletic performance, and enhance cosmetic appearance. Although anabolic steroids are controlled substances, only to be prescribed by a physician, it is currently possible to obtain anabolic steroids illegally without a prescription. There are significant negative physical and psychologic effects of anabolic steroid use, which in women can cause significant cosmetic and reproductive changes. Anabolic steroid use can be addictive and, therefore, difficult to stop. Treatment for anabolic steroid abuse generally involves education, counseling, and management of withdrawal symptoms. Health care providers are encouraged to address the use of these substances, encourage cessation, and refer patients to substance abuse treatment centers to prevent the long-term irreversible consequences of anabolic steroid use.