Have you heard of all those pro athletes that have gotten busted for using steroids? Steroids are drugs that make you bulk up and gain tons of muscle and testosterone without actually working for it. It’s illegal and it’s cheating. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of pro athletes that have used steroids to get stronger and better at their sport… But sometimes high school students even use steroids, too.
Although the percentage of high school students who use steroids is relatively low (1% of female students and about 12% of male students), that number is growing. People use steroids to either improve their sports performance or the way they look, but usually it’s for sports.
The type of steroids that people use to gain tons of muscle are called anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic refers to the steroids ability to develop muscle, and androgenic refers to their role in promoting the development of male sexual characteristics (testosterone). These steroids are usually made up of synthetic substances similar to testosterone, which is how they cause people to build so much muscle, grow more facial hair, get deeper voices, etc. In some cases, doctors do prescribe steroids to people who have unusually low levels of testosterone. But otherwise, they’re illegal.
A couple of “street names” for steroids are juice and roids, and they’re taken either from pills or needles. People who use steroids illegally usually take doses that are 10-100 times higher than what doctors prescribe patients for medical reasons.
So, what exactly is so bad about steroids? Here are some of the health consequences:
- stunted growth
- weight gain
- sleeping problems
- greater chance of getting injured
- blood clots
- kidney impairment/failure
- damage to the liver
- cardiovascular problems: enlargement of heart, high blood pressure, changes in cholesterol leading to increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- weakened immune system
- for guys: reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk of prostate cancer
- for girls: growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in menstrual cycle, permanently deepened voice
- possibly death
On top of all of that, steroids can always have a huge effect on your behavior. You could start experiencing mood swings, manic-like symptoms leading to violence, depression, irritability, paranoia, delusions, and impaired judgment.
If somebody you know is using steroids, here’s what you can do:
- Tell a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, counselor, or coach.
- Talk to them. Tell them about the health risks that go along with using steroids, and that it’s really not worth it.
- Call the Treatment Referral Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP. They can refer you to local treatment facilities, support groups, and other organizations that can help.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They can help you with all kinds of issues besides suicide.
If you want to be a star athlete, don’t cheat… you need to work for it! You just need to train, eat, and practice the healthy way. Don’t use drugs to help you reach your goals.