As a non-aromatizing androgen, dihydrotestosterone is extremely potent. Aromatization refers to the conversion of testosterone or anabolic steroids into estrogen. High estrogenic activity causes bloating, acne, water retention and oily skin. As dihydrotestosterone does not aromatize even at high dosages, users do not face the aforementioned side-effects. Lack of water retention also has a hardening effect on muscle tissue, in bodybuilders. Being a powerful androgen, dihydrotestosterone is also responsible for a shift in the estrogen-testosterone ratio in the body. Due to its predominant androgenic component, the steroid has a stimulating effect on the adreno-pituitary functions, and causes neurological excitation in the ‘sexual orientation areas of the brain’. This in turn, spikes sex drive in males.
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).