Are Steroids Legal? A Comprehensive Guide to the Laws Surrounding Steroids

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Steroids have been the focus of many high-profile scandals since they were first used by Russia in the Olympics in 1954. 

We all know about Lance Armstrong, and many of us have heard of the Russian doping scandal that got the whole country banned from the Olympics in 2015. 

It’s common knowledge steroids are illegal in sports due to their ability to give their users an unfair competitive advantage. But there seems to be some confusion over laws around the use of steroids outside of professional sports. 

So, the big question here: are steroids legal for use in bodybuilding and beyond? Read on to find out the laws and ramifications of using steroids in this comprehensive guide.

What Exactly Are Steroids?

Before we dive into the legalities surrounding the use of steroids, it’s useful to understand what they even are.

Simply put, anabolic steroids are synthetic modifications of testosterone. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone present in both men and women but is significantly more dominant in men.  

Steroids work by mimicking the hormones naturally released by the adrenal gland to reduce inflammation and tissue damage. They help to increase the muscle’s ability to produce protein, resulting in bigger muscle mass. 

Like other illicit drugs, there are many slang terms referring to steroids so users can talk about them without being too obvious. Common street names of steroids are roids, juice, gym candy, stackers and pumpers. 

Although most prominent in sports and bodybuilding, they are sometimes also abused by law enforcement officials. It sounds ironic, but having such a draining job has led some law enforcement officials down the steroid path too. 

What Are the Side Effects?

Many of you have likely heard horror stories about steroid use, and not all of them are myths. Some of the minor side effects include acne, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, and indigestion.

Some of the more serious side effects are high blood pressure, liver tumors, bone density problems leading to osteoporosis and eyesight problems. For women, the side effects are even worse and can lead to infertility.

Another common side effect of steroid abuse is known as ‘roid rage’. This is when the user becomes aggressive when under the influence of anabolic steroids, sometimes even resulting in violent behavior.

Are Steroids Legal?

The short answer is no. Even though 80% of American bodybuilders still use anabolic steroids, they are illegal in the United States without a prescription and have been since the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990. 

In medicine, steroids can be useful to treat various health concerns such as loss of function of testicles, muscle wasting caused by the AIDS virus and delayed puberty issues.

Veterinarians often prescribe steroids for animal use to help with weight gain and feeding efficiency, so while it is possible to get a legitimate prescription for steroids, they are to be used for their intended purposes only and are strictly not for resale.

Many people have the misconception that steroids are illegal simply because of their performance-enhancing abilities. This is not the case.

The bigger concern is the physical and emotional impact steroids have on their users and the high number of dangerous side effects linked to overuse. 

What Are the Penalties?

In the US, possession of illegally obtained steroids has a maximum jail time penalty of one year and a minimum fine of $1000. First-time offenders are sentenced under these parameters and sentences increase significantly for repeat offenders. 

The law takes trafficking much more seriously. For first offenders, the maximum penalty for trafficking of steroids is up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences double for second-time offenders 

These penalties are on a federal level. Each individual state has its own penalties for possession and use of steroids and other illicit drugs on top of the federal charges. 

Are There Legal Alternatives?

Yes. There are some legal alternatives to steroids, however, most of them still have a hefty list of side effects.

Some of the common supplements used by bodybuilders and athletes are HGH (human growth hormones), Dianabol and Trenorol. 

Injections of pure HGH are still illegal in the US. While they are not the same thing as anabolic steroids, they work in a similar way and have a lot of the same negative side effects.

However, there are some legal options. HGH pills are okay to take, and there has even been an injectable version of HGH that is now legal. 

The legal version is called HGH release and they work by triggering the natural release of the body’s own human growth hormones. Since it’s a natural process, it’s okay with the law.

The law around Dianabol is a bit fuzzy. In the US, some versions of Dianabol are still illegal for the same reasons HGH injections are illegal – they are considered to be too close in nature to steroids. Certain Dianabol pills are legal though. 

Trenorol is a legal growth supplement and was created to mirror the muscle building and fat loss effects of the illegal steroid Trenbolone. 

So yes, while there are legal alternatives to the illicit versions of steroids, most of them still have side effects and need to be taken with caution. Learn more about legal supplement options. Always do your research. 

Are Steroids Necessary to Get Big?

Not gonna lie, anabolic steroids and their legal alternatives definitely promote muscle growth. That is what they’re for, and they do it well. But no, it’s not necessary to take any form of steroid or growth supplement to get big.

It will take more work, but knowing what you’re doing in the gym and doing movements that promote hypertrophy (muscle growth) will get you there.

Being comfortable in the gym is half the battle. Even having the right shoes can prevent injury and make a gym session more enjoyable. 

It also helps to have a healthy lifestyle, eat a lot of protein and stay as low stress as possible. You might not believe it, but even getting enough sleep helps with building muscle mass, as it promotes much-needed recovery. 

What Did We Learn?

So, are steroids legal? No. And if it’s your second or third offense, the penalties can be pretty severe. Are there legal alternatives? Yes, but there’s a lot of weird stuff on the market so it’s recommended you do your research before buying.

Do you have to take steroids or supplements if you want to build muscle mass? No. It’s a shortcut.

Hard work and a healthy lifestyle will pay off eventually, and with none of those crazy side effects. Just keep at it. Visit our blog for more tips on living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the temptation to ‘juice’. 

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