High School Athletes and Steroid Use

High School Athletes and Steroid Use by Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

High School athletes using gym candy, juice, pumpers, stackers or vitamin S, is a cause for concern and an increasing problem in America…

Studies show that there are an increasing number of athletes (both male and female) using anabolic steroids, however it’s important to note that according to Frank Uryasz, President of Drug Free Sport, “most athletes are competing drug-free.” Education is vital, it’s important to teach good sportsmanship and the non-use message of anabolic steroids at an early age.

  • Anabolic Steroid use is increasing in both high school athletes and non-athletes.
  • Anabolic Steroid use can be “addictive” to “the look” users get and to “the feeling” they get from using them. Users believe that the benefits far outweigh the risks, “they like how they feel and look when they take the steroids.”
  • Surprisingly, many athletes who use anabolic steroids have stated their healing benefits in recovering from injuries as one of the primary reasons for use.
  • Look for changes not only in physical appearances, but in changes in behavior. Uryasz says to look for “quick changes that simply don’t make sense.” Physical changes may be difficult to detect because often the changes are “normally” seen in some teens such as an increase in acne. Anabolic Steroid use can have long-term devastating effects; from cardiovascular problems to aggression to hallucinations to depression and thoughts of suicide. In males, steroid use can lead to reproductive problems, increasing breast size and baldness. In females there can be an increase in body hair, deepening of the voice and menstrual problems.
  • Research shows that anabolic steroid users have a higher rate of drug and alcohol use than other teens.

Education and prevention are key. All schools should be on board in educating their students and athletes, and drug testing is vital. The pressures of teens today are so great that gaining that extra edge, increasing their muscle mass and sporting more energy may be more important than the possible devastating effects. Clearly, the risks of anabolic steroid use far outweigh any advantage of gaining that extra edge.

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