Think steroids are only a problem with adult athletes? This isn’t the case. In 2010, a survey of high school seniors showed that 1.5 percent had tried anabolic steroids in the past year. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, 4 percent of high school seniors in the United States abused steroids at least once in their lifetime. Get the facts on anabolic steroids and learn why they are a danger.
What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic male hormones. They were developed by researchers for therapeutic medical purposes, such as use in delayed puberty. Anabolic steroids help muscles grow and can cause the development of male sexual characteristics, such as hair growth and a deepening voice.
How are steroids abused?
Athletes and bodybuilders sometimes abuse steroids to increase performance and build muscle more quickly. This is an illegal, dangerous use of steroids, which should only be used under the guidance of a physician and as prescribed. When athletes use steroids, either orally or by injection, they take much larger doses than are recommended. Some users take doses up to 100 times higher than what a doctor would recommend. At times, athletes use both oral and injected steroids to try to increase the effects.
Why are anabolic steroids dangerous?
Even steroids that are prescribed have side-effects and are rarely used in high doses or long term. People who abuse steroids pay no heed to the side effects and cause serious, long-lasting damage. In teens in particular, the damage can be lifelong and can include permanently stunted growth. Dangers and problems associated with steroid use are both emotional and physical. For teens who are in school, the emotional effects can be detrimental to school success and relationships.
Physical side effects and risks include:
- Severe acne
- Liver problems
- High blood pressure
- Baldness in males and females
- Breast development in males
Emotional side effects and risks include:
- Severe mood swings
- Impaired judgment
- Anger and rage
According to DrugAbuse.gov, in addition to these side effects, those who use anabolic steroids intravenously also risk contracting HIV and Hepatitis B and C, as well as other blood-borne diseases.