Kids and Steroids

By: Ali Gorman, R.N.
By: Ali Gorman, R.N.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports millions of kids have used steroids. From 2001 to 2003, the use of steroids by girls went up 300 percent. Usage by boys went up 20 percent.

Experts say a mixed message is being sent to kids. They understand the drugs are harmful, but they also see their sports idols becoming stronger and faster with steroids.

Educators have to warn children about the effects of the illegal drugs and other performance-enhancing drugs. Doctors say early use could cause stunted growth, liver problems and possibly even certain types of cancer.

Michigan high school and middle schools do not have the resources to run drug tests. They rely on education programs to prevent use of steroids.

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What Are Steroids?

  • You may have heard them called 'roids, juice, hype, or pump.
  • Anabolic steroids are powerful drugs that many people take in high doses to boost athletic performance.
  • Anabolic means "building body tissue."
  • Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone.
  • Lower doses of anabolic steroids sometimes are used to treat a handful of very serious medical conditions.
  • They should not be confused with corticosteroids, which are used to treat common medical conditions such as asthma and arthritis.
  • Corticosteroids are strong medications, but do not have muscle-building effects.
  • Anabolic steroids are the ones abused by athletes and others who want a shortcut to becoming bigger and stronger.

Who Uses Steroids?

  • Athletes involved in sports that rely on strength and size, like football, wrestling, or baseball
  • Endurance athletes, such as those involved in track-and-field and swimming
  • Athletes involved in weight training or bodybuilding
  • Anyone interested in building and defining muscles

How Are Steroids Used?

  • By mouth (pills)
  • Injected with a needle (Athletes who share needles to inject steroids also are at risk for serious infections including Hepatitis B and HIV, the AIDS virus.)
  • Some athletes take even higher doses, called "megadoses," to produce faster results. Others gradually increase the amount they take over time, which is called "pyramiding." Taking different kinds of anabolic steroids, possibly along with other drugs, is a particularly dangerous practice known as "stacking."

Side Effects

  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Liver damage and cancers
  • Stroke and blood clots
  • Urinary and bowel problems, such as diarrhea
  • Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries
  • Severe acne, especially on face and back
  • Baldness
  • Rapid weight gain and muscle development
  • Aggressive behavior

Source: http://www.aap.org (The American Academy of Pediatrics) contributed to this report.


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