It started along with a man crush. “He was good-looking, and he was huge and he was popular,” remembers Brian Cuban of the former professional soccer player who exercised at his fitness center.
In other words, he was everything Cuban felt he wasn’t.
Therefore, when the former player pointed out that a nearby doctor could put patients on “weight-gain programs” — aka anabolic steroids — Cuban, then 26, made an appointment, received a prescription for an oral anabolic steroid and began bulking up.
“I started … working out even harder, getting bigger and much more lean and a lot more muscular,” recalls Cuban, now a 55-year-old lawyer, author and eating-disorder and addiction-awareness advocate in Dallas who was 26 at the time.
However, along with the muscle gain came “an uptick in anger” which he worried would harm his relationship. He burnt the remaining steroids down the toilet at work, but began again about three years later after the pair, who had married, divorced.
By then, laws had tightened to penalize physicians and fitness instructors who promoted anabolic steroid use, so Cuban switched to the “black market” at his gym to purchase them in injectable form. Hence “Big Brian” — Cuban’s steroid-pumped counterpart — was born.
“This started a 10-year-cycle of steroid abuse due to I liked ‘Big Brian’ — it made me feel good, it made me feel loved,” Cuban remembers. ‘ Big Brian’ would certainly never ever be that guy … that never got to visit the prom; that never held a girl’s hand.”
The only problem with “Big Brian?”
He was also that guy who was never delighted.
“Regardless of how big I got, it was never satisfactory,” Cuban remembers.
Cuban is among the many non-professional sportsmen — mostly men, experts say — who use or have definitely used anabolic steroids and other appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs in the name of vanity, versus for sports or bodybuilding competitions.
“It’s ending up being more popular and mainstream as a result of physique,” says Jim White, an exercise physiologist and registered dietitian with studios in Virginia. “It’s to obtain the six-pack and muscle mass that they might not have the ability to get on their own.”
While the appeal is understandable — the products, when paired with the right diet and physical exercise plan, can possibly increase muscle strength, body shape and bone density, and improve the body’s ability to patch tissue, White says — anabolic steroid usage comes with a steep cost to health, not to mention the legal risks and financial strain it presents (Cuban, for one, estimates spending up to $500 a month on the drugs).
In the short-term, for instance, anabolic steroid usage is linked to severe acne, baldness, infertility and impotence, to name a few side effects, White says. Additionally, the ego-boost can possibly be addictive. Long-term, White adds, the products can result in high blood pressure, circulatory problems, tumors, cancer and even death.
Some research has also associated long-term anabolic steroid usage to memory problems, while other professionals worry about the drugs’ effect on muscles like the heart. “Is it causing growth elsewhere that we don’t necessarily want growth?” says Chris Mohr, an exercise physiologist and registered dietitian in Louisville, Kentucky.
In addition to, he adds, taking synthetic testosterone could hamper the body’s ability to earn the hormone itself if and when a consumer prefers to quit. “What if you accidentally shoot yourself in the foot?” he says.
Emotional side effects — so-called, anger problems, suicidal thoughts and worse, action — are perhaps the most disturbing consequences for users. “It can not only wreck your health,” White says, “but also others all around.”
A Better Practice to Bigger Muscles
It wasn’t until Cuban woke up after a two-day drug- and alcohol-induced blackout and was taken to a psychiatric center by his now-fiancé in 2007 that he shifted to clean living — anabolic steroid usage included. Even an earlier, severe staph infection that almost cost him his leg couldn’t completely convince him that he had a problem, although that he ‘d triggered the infection by injecting steroids with an unsanitary needle.
“I have physical problems today which will never disappear,” he says, including heart problems and a left leg that goes “fairly numb” throughout exercise. For him, continual therapy that addressed his underlying self-doubts — as well as his depression, addictions, disordered consuming and body image problems — was the ticket to recovery.
“The more I learned, ‘I’m OK whatever I looked like,’ the less I felt like I required to change my body,” says Cuban, who continues to see a therapist, practice mindfulness and revolve to stay healthy.
Visiting a mental health professional for steroid or other appearance-enhancing drugs are able to help the men, who, just like Cuban, rely on them to deal with underlying mental health conditions or insecurities. Among the men whose use of legal supplements is risky, he says, “this truly is an expression of consuming disorder habits.”
Even though such products’ use isn’t tied to body image or other psychological concerns, it is essential to remember that there are much healthier — not to mention legal– ways to build muscle, fitness professionals say. Particularly, using safe and legal steroid alternatives such as CrazyBulk. “It may take a bit longer, but we can live longer and have a much better quality of life” without adding illegal, high-risk substances to the blend, White says. “It can possibly be done the right way.”
Click here for our recommended legal steroid alternative to gain muscle safely.
Anabolic steroid – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anabolic Steroids: MedlinePlus
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