“Steroids” refers to the class of drugs used to treat a wide variety of conditions, from supporting reproduction (e.g., estrogen) and regulation of metabolism and immune function, to increasing muscle and bone mass and treating inflammation and asthma (e.g., cortisone).1
What Are Anabolic Steroids?
“Anabolic” steroids are the class of steroids used to increase muscle and bone mass. These drugs are manufactured in a laboratory to imitate the male sex hormone, testosterone. Despite the fact that there are various types of steroids, teens tend to abuse the “anabolic” muscle-building kind.2
While anabolic steroids are available legally by prescription, they are most often prescribed to treat conditions that occur when males produce abnormally low amounts of testosterone, which can result in delayed puberty, osteoporosis (weak bones), and impotence. They are also prescribed to treat body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.3 However, abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to serious health problems, some irreversible.
Why Steroids Are Dangerous to Teens:
As a parent, you have the challenge of explaining to your teen why use of steroids is a serious issue.
First, while they are sometimes prescribed to treat medical conditions like cancer, there are significant health risks in using them outside a health professional’s care. Typically, in those situations, the benefits of steroid use under a physician’s supervision outweigh the risks, and they can improve the patient’s quality of life.
Second, both men’s and women’s bodies produce a certain level of testosterone. When teens take steroids, they are adding more testosterone to their growing bodies, which throws off their hormonal balance.
Third, since steroids are often taken by injection, there is also increased risk of HIV and/or hepatitis infection from an unsterile needle or syringe.
While there are many reasons teens take steroids, there are natural opportunities to talk to your child about all the reasons they should stay far away from steroids. Here are a few suggestions:
· When your teen gets more involved with competitive sports.
· If you find your teen is growing more preoccupied with body image, such as wanting to gain more muscle or appear leaner.
· If you notice your child’s friends are hitting their growth spurts and “filling out.”
Make sure your teen understands that the effects of steroid abuse may include: sterility; damage to the cardiovascular system and liver; increased risk of injury; and disease, such as increased levels of cholesterol, causing a thickening of arterial walls that could ultimately be life threatening.4
SOURCE: Parents: The Anti-Drug
CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!