Getting involved in sports is a great way for a teen to be active and involved. Athletics help keep young people in shape, give them a way to be social and learn teamwork skills and keep them occupied in a healthy way.
On the downside, the pressure to perform well can sometimes be intense. Student athletes might also feel pressure to look a certain way and to be muscular. These stresses lead some teens to use steroids, a dangerous habit. If you have a teen involved in athletics, should you be concerned about steroids?
Facts About Steroid Use
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recently released the results of surveys that indicate a disturbing trend in steroid abuse. The report shows that use of steroids and synthetic growth hormones is growing among teens. An increase in the use of synthetic growth hormones without a prescription was steep, going from 5 percent to 11 percent of teens.
The study also found that one in five teens believes it is easy to get access to steroids. One in five also claimed to have at least one friend using steroids for performance enhancement. African American and Hispanic teenagers are more likely to abuse performance-enhancing drugs.
Steroid Use And Risks
Anabolic steroids are abused by athletes because they enhance performance. They help to build more muscle, but using them carries many risks, especially for young people. In addition to increasing muscle mass, steroids cause a number of disturbing side effects:
- Extreme mood swings
- Aggressive and violent behavior
- Feeling of invincibility
- High blood pressure
- Severe acne
- Liver and kidney disease
- Heart attack or stroke
In young men abusing steroids, the drugs can cause breast growth, shrinking of the testicles, a low sperm count that can result in permanent infertility and an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. In young women, steroids can cause the voice to get deeper, facial hair growth, changes in menstruation and male-pattern baldness.
Talking To Your Teen Athlete About Steroid Use
Because of the serious risks and side effects of misusing steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, it is important that you talk to your teen about it. Even if you feel confident that your son or daughter would never use steroids, empower him or her with the knowledge to make the right choices. Pressure to perform can be overwhelming and can cause even smart and well-behaved young people to make bad decisions.
Start by having a talk just about the facts. Teens are not always aware just how dangerous drug abuse is. Give your teen all the information about steroid use and its risks. Also talk about the other consequences, such as getting in trouble at school, being banned from sporting events or getting in legal trouble. If you’re worried your teen will feel targeted or attacked, involve the whole family. Even your younger children can benefit from learning about the dangers of steroids.
To protect your teen from steroid abuse, it is also important that you observe him and be aware of changes that might indicate a drug problem. If anything about his behavior or physical health seems off to you, don’t hesitate to confront him and get help if you need it. Even if it isn’t steroid abuse, there could be something else going on with him that needs attention.
Finally, make sure your kids know that they can talk to you and come to you with questions and concerns. Having this type of open dialogue makes for a healthy relationship between you and your child.