Steroid Abuse in Teen Athletes

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It can be tempting for teens to want to try performance-enhancing drugs, it’s certainly the quickest way to get the strength and performance they seek. However, they come at a high cost, not just price-wise but to health and personal relationships as well. So why do 1 in 20 teenagers report using steroids to increase muscle mass?

Types of Steroids

  • Creatine is sold as an OTC supplement. It is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It’s commonly used to improve performance during high-intensity bursts of activity like weight-training, sprinting or any other aerobic activities.
  • Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone which builds muscle and increases strength. It can be used for developmental issues and building muscle mass in AIDS patients under doctors’ orders, but taking it without supervision to perform better in sports is highly dangerous.
  • Steroid precursors such as androstenedione (“andro”) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are substances the body converts into anabolic steroids. Most are illegal without a prescription, however, DHEA is still available in OTC preparations.

Heart Attacks, Strokes & Other Health Problems

Using steroids continuously causes an enlarged heart, high blood pressure and changes in blood cholesterol, all increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, no matter the age. There are also ugly external side effects like excess hair, stunted growth, baldness and more. The mental change could be worse than the physical with mood swings, violent outbursts, trouble sleeping and depression.

Addiction

Steroids release large bursts of dopamine which causes a sudden high. This in itself can be addicting but the real danger is in suddenly quitting steroids, a person’s body will crave anything that they are used to no matter how horrible it was.

You might be wondering why anyone would subject themselves to so much just to run faster or lift more. It isn’t always just about the sport, there may be an underlying factor like body image or a need to succeed and earn approval.

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