The middle school years are the years where young teens are between childhood and adulthood. Their bodies and their opinions about their bodies are rapidly changing. With the changes comes some dissatisfaction and some teens try to find other ways to improve their body.
A recent study of over 2,700 fourteen-year-olds, by the University of Minnesota, reveals that nearly 6 percent of boys and 4.6 percent of girls are using steroids to enhance their body’s physical appearance or to perform better and stronger in sports. Both males and females are experimenting with steroids, but their unsupervised use brings many risks and dangers.
Body Image and Athletics
Why are teens using steroids at such a young age? Sports professionals are usually the ones who make the news for steroid use. Multiple studies on body image show that teens are heavily affected by media and by their peers on what they should look like.
Some youth see the impact that steroids have on their friends and want to speed their hormones up past the skinny awkward-looking years or bulk up their body so they can perform stronger on their football or basketball team. Anabolic steroids produce more muscles and put body weight on those skinny teen boys. Some teens pile on multiple drugs to get more of an effect. These drug interactions can cause multiple side effects and then the teens find themselves taking more drugs to try and get rid of side effects.
Side effects and Risks
Teens who are using steroids risk problems that may affect them physically and mentally.
- Mood swings
- Infection from dirty needles
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver and prostate cancer
- Infertility, more masculine voice, and male hair growth in females
- Testicular shrinkage, breast growth, and weight gain in men
- Stunted growth
Teens may not realize the harmful changes that are occurring as their body is changing from steroid use. They may not associate that the steroids are what is flaming something as harmless as acne and as harmful as depression.
Watching for Signs and Symptoms
Parents and teachers can watch for certain symptoms that my signal that a student or child may be suffering from or at risk for steroid abuse.
If teens can improve their body self-image, then it may deter them from ever attempting to use steroids. People who may feel dissatisfaction with their body may show low self-esteem, exercise obsessively, and have strange eating habits. Some may be so obsessed with managing their food that they meticulously restrict certain foods or food groups and may even avoid eating, altogether.
Once a teen starts using steroids, other symptoms appear and may include an increase in muscles, weight, hair and acne. They may also develop mood swings or show more aggression or hostility. Teens who learn to be patient about those awkward growth years and love their body the way it is, will be much less likely to experiment with body-changing, life-changing steroids.