Addiction in AthletesThe use of drugs or alcohol by athletes is not new, but the types of drugs that are abused can differ when compared to the illicit substances that are abused by others. In the case of an athlete, drugs may be used to enhance performance so that they have an edge when compared to other athletes.

By understanding how they use the substances, it is easier to recognize when an individual may be using or abusing a substance in an effort to improve their athletic performance.

Increasing Testosterone Levels

A key way that athletes use drugs to enhance performance is by increasing their body’s production of testosterone hormones. According to How Stuff Works, anabolic steroids are often used to encourage testosterone production or to mimic the hormone. The result of the increased amount of hormones in the body is increased muscle mass and strength.

Although athletes may use steroids to increase their muscle mass, How Stuff Works notes that the drugs can be detected by routine drug tests. The Mayo Clinic says that the steroids are often taken as much higher dosages than medical professionals would recommend for legitimate treatments, so it is possible to determine if an athlete has taken the substance to enhance his or her athletic performance or as a prescription for a medical reason.

In some cases, the type of steroid that is used by athletes is an illegal substance that is potentially dangerous to their health.

Improving Training

According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits associated with the increased level of male hormones in the body is not the only reason that athletes use the substance. It also encourages the muscles to heal after a difficult workout, which ensures that they are able to improve the results of training.

The reason that the drugs can enhance performance and training results is that the risk of overworking the muscles is reduced. Athletes can push their bodies for a longer period of time due to the faster rate of healing, which limits the risk of fatigue related to overworking the muscles.

Increasing Red Blood Cell Counts

Although the impact of steroids is recognized in relation to athletic performance, drugs that are not classified as a steroid can sometimes be used by athletes for a similar purpose. In the case of erythropoietein, or EPO, the substance is used to increase the amount of red blood cells that an athlete has in the body.

According to How Stuff Works, the reason that athletes want to increase their red blood cells is related to oxygen delivery. When the body has a greater number of red blood cells, oxygen is delivered to all of the organs in an efficient manner. As a result, athletes are able to accomplish more during their workout and improve their overall performance in sports.

Increasing Focus

Since the training that athletes can do before a competition can be intense, fatigue is a concern that many athletes may face. As a result, some professional athletes have used stimulant drugs to enhance performance during a competition because they believe that it gives them an edge and helps them perform at their best for a longer duration of time.

The downside of stimulant drugs is the risk associated with the substance. In the case of bromantan, the substance is sometimes used to mask the use of other substances, like steroids. Since it can prevent the other drug from detection, it has been used to cover-up other drugs that were used or abused.

Although the substances can be used to increase focus and encourage athletes to perform at their best for a longer duration, certain stimulants can be addictive and potentially dangerous. Furthermore, the risks associated with any specific substance can vary and some drugs can cause severe side effects.

Athletes use drugs to enhance performance and reduce the amount of time they need to recover from a training session, but the substances that are used can come with specific risks and many of the substances are banned from sports to ensure that the competition is as fair as possible. Since there are risks associated with using substances for athletic performance, it is better to avoid the drugs and focus on naturally developing muscles and abilities.


Sources
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/performance-enhancing-drugs/art-20046134
http://science.howstuffworks.com/10-performance-enhancing-drugs.htm