Twenty-five-year-old Romario Dos Santos Alves told Barcroft that his obsession with huge muscles began three years ago when he moved from his hometown of Caldas Novas to Goiânia. There, he says he started going to a local gym where he was first introduced to Synthol. Soon, he says he was hooked and injecting himself regularly.
Dos Santos Alves says that while he received some positive attention — children would want to take photos with him because he looked like the Incredible Hulk — his biceps swelled to more than 25 inches, and people started finding him “terrifying.”
“Once, I was working at a Catholic church, and a woman came up to me and said, ‘My daughter is 12, and she won’t come to church because she is scared of you. She thinks you’re a beast and a monster,’” he told Barcroft TV.
Eventually, Dos Santos Alves was in constant pain, saying that the Synthol caused his muscle tissue to “migrate” and turn to “rocks.” He fell into a depression. His relationship with his wife suffered, and he lost his job.
After a suicide attempt, Dos Santos Alves eventually decided the only course of action was to have his arms amputated. Although his wife tried to talk him out of it, Dos Santos Alves says he went to a local hospital determined to have the surgery done.
Luckily, doctors were able to save his arms. Now, Dos Santos Alves, who says he’d like to become a professional bodybuilder eventually, has been clean for two years, though he says he’s been tempted to try other muscle enhancers.
“[Synthol] is very addictive,” he said. “Someone who tries it once will try it again.”