Steroid use among teens is a major problem because of the negative health consequences that can result. Among all drugs abused by teens, steroids are not the most popular, but they can be extremely damaging. Boys are more likely than girls to use them, but all teens are susceptible to the temptation to use these drugs to bulk up and to perform better as athletes. Adults must take on the responsibility of learning about the harm steroids can cause and educate young people so that the damage can be avoided.
What Are Steroids?
The steroids that are abused by people hoping to build muscles are called anabolic-androgenic steroids. The term anabolic refers to the fact that they build muscle structures and androgenic refers to the ability to confer male characteristics to the user. These steroids are prescription medications that are synthetic forms of the male hormone testosterone. There are valid reasons for doctors to prescribe these steroids for people with certain disorders. To take them without a prescription is illegal.
How Are Teens Abusing Steroids?
Teen drug abuse facts tell us that teens are abusing anabolic-androgenic steroids to build muscle and to improve athletic performance. With the pressure put on some teens to perform and succeed at athletics, it can be tempting to resort to drugs to get an edge. From stats on drug abuse we know that up to 12 percent of male high school students have abused steroids. Use among girls is much less with only one percent trying these drugs while in high school.
How Are Steroids Harmful to Teens?
When taking all teenage drugs into account, steroids are not abused as often as alcohol or marijuana, but there are still too many using these drugs to build muscles. It seems like an easy fix to take more testosterone to get more muscles. However, most teens have no idea of the health risks they are taking when they use steroids. Taking steroids can cause stunted growth because the teenage body is still growing and developing. Steroids can also accelerate the progression of puberty. Even more harmful is the fact that steroids can damage the liver and kidneys and can cause heart problems and high blood pressure. A young, healthy person taking steroids may have a heart attack or stroke. In addition to the serious health consequences, steroids can cause other changes to the teenage body. In boys it can cause the testicles to shrink, breast growth, infertility and baldness. In girls, steroids may cause baldness, facial hair, changes in menstruation and a deeper voice that may be permanent. Steroids also cause behavioral changes such as depression, irritability and severe mood swings that can lead a teen to lash out at others unexpectedly. Steroid use is nothing to be complacent about. Teens who use steroids put themselves at great risk and should seek treatment for their steroid use right away. At the time it may seem like a great idea, but it is one that they will later regret. Adults working with teens and parents have the responsibility of monitoring young people and educating them about the dangers of abusing steroids.