Teen Steroid Use on the Rise

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USA Today reports that steroid use among teens is on the rise. In fact, some studies show as many 12 percent of high school boys use the drugs, despite warnings of their dangers.

It's nothing new for teens to feel the pressure to be taller, stronger and faster.
But more and more of them are turning to steroids to achieve their goal. Studies show there are numerous reasons teen-agers use the drugs. Like the pressure to conform, perform better at sports or just a bad example set by professional athletes who admit to using the drugs.

But instead of nailing down a reason, health and school officials say it’s more important to find a deterrent, which is why a number of area schools including Hononegah, South Beloit and Lutheran have begun drug testing.

Use of legal steroid supplements are also on the rise. Following a confession by professional baseball player Mark Maguire that he used supplements sales jumped 1,000 percent with many of those consumers being teens.

According to another study, disapproval of steroids among high school students dropped from 91 percent in 1997 to 86 percent in 2001. And the belief that steroids pose a great risk fell from 67 to 59-percent.

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What Are Steroids?

  • You may have heard them called 'roids, juice, hype, or pump.
  • Anabolic steroids are powerful drugs that many people take in high doses to boost athletic performance.
  • Anabolic means "building body tissue."
  • Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone.
  • Lower doses of anabolic steroids sometimes are used to treat a handful of very serious medical conditions.
  • They should not be confused with corticosteroids, which are used to treat common medical conditions such as asthma and arthritis.
  • Corticosteroids are strong medications, but do not have muscle-building effects.
  • Anabolic steroids are the ones abused by athletes and others who want a shortcut to becoming bigger and stronger.

Who Uses Steroids?

  • Athletes involved in sports that rely on strength and size, like football, wrestling, or baseball
  • Endurance athletes, such as those involved in track-and-field and swimming
  • Athletes involved in weight training or bodybuilding
  • Anyone interested in building and defining muscles

How Are Steroids Used?

  • By mouth (pills)
  • Injected with a needle (Athletes who share needles to inject steroids also are at risk for serious infections including Hepatitis B and HIV, the AIDS virus.)
  • Some athletes take even higher doses, called "megadoses," to produce faster results. Others gradually increase the amount they take over time, which is called "pyramiding." Taking different kinds of anabolic steroids, possibly along with other drugs, is a particularly dangerous practice known as "stacking."

Side Effects

  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Liver damage and cancers
  • Stroke and blood clots
  • Urinary and bowel problems, such as diarrhea
  • Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries
  • Severe acne, especially on face and back
  • Baldness
  • Rapid weight gain and muscle development
  • Aggressive behavior

Source: http://www.aap.org (The American Academy of Pediatrics) contributed to this report.