Free Essay On Steroid Use By Teenagers: Reasons And Results
Anabolic steroids have been developed and used for physical enhancement by elevating testosterone levels. Originally synthesized in 1935, the first synthetic steroid was used by German soldiers to promote stamina and aggressiveness. By the 1940’s professional athletes used anabolic steroids to increase athletic performance and in 1958 began to produce them.
Athletes in many sports became dependent on the use of steroids in order to remain competitive against rivals who also used them. Sports organizations began to discourage them passively when serious side effects became associated with the use, but it wasn’t until 1975 that the International Olympic Committee officially banned steroid from athletic competition. In 1990, the possession of anabolic-androgenic steroids without a prescription became illegal in the United States.
The term “ergogenic aid” is used in conjunction with any process that enhances natural muscle efficiency and control and production of energy (Silver, 2001). In the United States along, there are thought to be between one and three million athletes of both genders using anabolic steroids. In response, sports organizations have implemented programs to test athletes for illegal use of unapproved nutritional, physiologic, and pharmacologic enhancement methods.
Teenagers today are looking to steroid use to build muscle for appearance and sports performance. A new study has shown that approximately five percent of middle school and high school students use anabolic illegal steroids regardless of dangerous side effects (Kuehn, 2009). This illegal and dangerous activity is a detriment to young people and methods are needed to stop inappropriate steroid use by teenagers.
History of Steroid Use
Early sports competitions record the use of supposed performance enhancements such as Greeks eating sesame seeds, Aborigines chewing the pituri plant, and Norse warriors ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms (Intheknowzone.com, 2015). Athletes in later times looked to amphetamines to overcome fatigue and increase focus. Steroids were introduced in 1935 and were used for decades before the public recognized the potential for serious side effect and even death. It still took until 1990 for anabolic steroids to become illegal in America. Nevertheless, designer steroids continue to come onto the market to attempt to create a false negative drug test (Kickman, 2008).
Pharmacology of Steroids
While athletes have known for years that using performance enhancing drugs improves their muscle size and strength, many people do not know the actual chemistry behind the substances. Steroid use is legitimate for some illnesses such a muscle degeneration seen in chronic diseases (Kicman, 2008). Also, elderly people are sometimes prescribed steroids in order to improve muscle tone as they age.
Steroids can be given by mouth or injection (Anderson & Bolduc, 1997). The most common steroids take by mouth are stanozolol (Winstrol), oxymetholone (Anadrol), methandrostenolone (Dianabol), and oxandrolone (Anavar). Steroids that are injected include boldenone undecylenate (Equipoise), nandrolone decanoate (Deca-Durabolin), cypionate (Depo-Testosterone), testosterone, and nandrolone phenpropionate (Durabolin). The patterns of use are usually combining injected and oral drugs in six- to twelve-week cycles. The injectable steroids are less damaging to the liver than those taken by mouth, but the oral drugs clear the system more quickly if a test is expected.
The physiological action of anabolic steroids is believed to be achieved by attaching to androgen cell receptors to increase RNA production; protein synthesis results. The effects are related to the person’s type and number of androgen receptors and the amount of enzymes he has that control natural steroid creation. “Stacking” is the practice of using a number of preparations at the same time, and “pyramiding” refers to increasing the dose of the steroid through a cycle of use. Pyramiding can result in the use of doses 10 to 40 times higher than those used for legitimate medical reasons. The reasons a person employs stacking and pyramiding is to create an optimum growth effect with less side effects.
Reasons Teens Use Steroids
Children are exposed to steroid use at an earlier age in before, possibly due to information spread over the internet (Calfee, 2006). Some steroid use has been seen in students in middle school. Some teens use drugs that have not been proven to have the same effect as steroids such as steroid precursors, ephedra alkaloids, and growth hormones. Although they do not have the performance enhancing results, they can pose serious health risks.
The primary reason teenagers use steroids is to promote athletic performance and increase muscular development for the sake of appearance. However, there are a number of other factors involved. One study evaluated the relationship between the use of anabolic steroids in 16-year-old high school students and an intense exercise program (Kokkevi, Fotiou, Chileva, Nociar & Miller, 2008). A sample of 18, 430 teens from six European countries were given anonymous self-administered questionnaires in school to measure steroid use, amount of physical exercise, use of tobacco and alcohol, use of illegal drugs, feelings of suicide, aggressive behavior, truancy, use of steroids by friends, and the perception of availability of steroids. The findings indicated that the use of anabolic steroids was 1.4 times higher for teens who exercise daily and 1.8 times higher for males over females. In addition, users of steroids also reported drinking alcohol on a frequent basis, having a lifetime history of taking sedatives and marijuana, approval by friends of steroid use, and a perception of easy access to the drugs. There was a significant link between deviant behavior and steroid use.
.Photo 1. Teen Bodybuilder (Bodybuilding.com, 2015)
While the teenager above (Photo 1) is not publically diagnosed as a steroid user, the exaggerated musculature is symptomatic of the growth enhancement generally not possible in a boy of his age. There does not appear to be any visible side effects at the time of this photo, but the longer a young man continues the use of steroids in any form the more likely he is to suffer problems. Aside from the physical signs, internal and external, personality changes such as excessive aggression can manifest.
Teenagers who use steroids do not believe they are detrimental to their health. There is a population of athletes and other adults who use anabolic steroids functioning under the same perception, but believe children should not participate until their growth systems have matured. Many professional athletes feel if they don’t use some form of performance enhancer, they can’t keep abreast with the competition. For that reason, competitors from small events to major ones may attempt to dodge drug testing by using “natural” steroids or drugs not explicitly banned by athletic organizations.
The side effects of steroid use range from mild to severe (Anderson & Bolduc, 1997). Frequently, liver enzymes elevate, but rarely to the point of severe complications. Men using steroids demonstrated lowered levels of hormone that produce natural testosterone, resulting in degrees of sterility, shrinking of the testicles, and breast enlargement. Women develop a deeper voice, male-pattern baldness, excessive growth of body hair, and shrinking of the clitoris.
The serum lipid profiles that regulate heart function may be affected, but an association with coronary artery disease has not been established. However, there have been reports of steroid users experiencing heart attacks, stroke, and loss of arms and legs.
Alterations in the pathways affecting the genes can lead to changes in behavior that motivate the athlete to train; sometimes, this results in excessively aggressive tendencies referred to as “’roid rage” (Kicman, 2008). Other behavioral and mental changes include mood swings, depression, irritability, change in sex drive, euphoria, and possibly psychosis (Anderson & Bolduc, 1997). Stopping the use of steroids can result in hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, muscle pain, chills, sweats, problems sleeping, loss of appetite, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and involuntary erections. Of particular interest to teenagers is stopping bone growth, resulting in short stature if maturity has not been reached.
Skin breakdown is secondary to the use of steroids used for bodybuilding. The top picture in the group below (Photo 2) shows the physical enhancement sought by the user with the beginning stages of the response evident. The second picture demonstrates the active phase of the eruptions with a significant decrease in muscle size, probably due to stopping the steroid use. The third picture is the scarring and discoloration that remained after the skin lesions healed
Photo 2. Side Effects of Steroid Use (Buildmymuscle.blogspot.com, 2010)
Steroid atrophy is a result of topical application of steroids. The upper layer of the skin thins and frequently the surface breaks open under slight impact and bleeds. The problem has no cure, but there can be some decrease in severity if the steroid use is stopped soon after symptoms appear. The photograph below (Photo 3) is of a woman, but the same signs are apparent in men who use steroids topically.
Photo 3. Steroid Atrophy (Dermweb.com, 2015)
The use of steroids has been in the public eye for decades. There is rarely a month that passes that the tabloids do not contain an article on a professional athlete being suspended or under questioning for the use of illegal performance enhancers. Some of the athletes included on this list are Floyd Landis, Tour de France winner stripped of his title; Marion Jones, who lost her five Olympic medals; and Ben Johnson, the world track record setter disqualified at the Olympics (Wright, 2015).
Despite famous athletes being stripped of honors, competitors believe they can escape detection. This same mentality exists for teen steroid users. It is the responsibility of sports organizations, high school coaches, friends, and family to be aware of the sign of steroid use in young people and take steps to stop the practice. Changes in the legal status of specific substances, financial and legal consequences when use is detected, changes in the rules for high school athletes to include drug testing, and provision of education concerning the dangers of anabolic steroid use to young competitors.
Alvarez, M. (2012). A Dangerous Trend: Kids And Teens Using Steroids. Fox News.Com. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/11/19/dangerous-trend-kids-and-teens-using-steroids/
Dr. Alvarez discusses the current trend of teenage use of steroids. He quotes a study concerning the use, but the reference is not supplied. This is a news broadcast and he presents the activity of “stacking”, using more than one drug at a time for optimum effect. He presents information on side effect and signs parents and other adults should learn.
Anabolicsteroidforums.com,. (2012). PRA (peer reviewed article) - The Pharmacology of Anabolic Steroids. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from http://www.anabolicsteroidforums.com/showthread.php/1422-PRA-(peer-reviewed-article)-The-Pharmacology-of-Anabolic-Steroids
Anderson, S., & Bolduc, S. (1997). Adolescents and anabolic steroids: A subject review. Pediatrics, 99(6), 904.
A comprehensive overview of adolescent use of steroids and steroid use in general, the authors cover the topics of definition, background, methods of use, mechanism of action, side effects, and patterns of use. In conclusion, the authors state that passive education concerning the subject is inadequate; the responsibility falls to the medical community to recognize and act on the circumstances involving pediatric use of steroids.
Calfee, R. (2006). Popular Ergogenic Drugs and Supplements in Young Athletes. PEDIATRICS, 117(3), e577-e589. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1429
Intheknowzone.com. (2011). History of Steroid Use - In The Know Zone. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from http://intheknowzone.com/substance-abuse-topics/steroids/history.html
This website documents the history of steroid use from early competition in ancient Greece to present day. The information is interesting, but the source is not academic enough for reliability. There are no references or citations.
Kicman, A. (2008). Pharmacology of anabolic steroids. British Journal Of Pharmacology, 154(3), 502-521. doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.165
An academic presentation of the use and actions of steroids covers physical responses to the drugs and the chemical composition and mechanical actions of the steroids. He presents the legality of steroid production, sale, use, and abuse around the world. Easy reading for a chemist, other audience may find the information difficult to digest.
Kokkevi, A., Fotiou, A., Chileva, A., Nociar, A., & Miller, P. (2008). Daily Exercise and Anabolic Steroids Use in Adolescents: A Cross-National European Study. Subst Use Misuse, 43(14), 2053-2065. doi:10.1080/10826080802279342
In response to increasing evidence of illegal steroid use by teenagers, the authors conducted a study based on self-administered questionnaires on a sample of 18,430 16-year-olds from eight European countries. The findings were that boys reported more use than girls, and teens who exercised regularly used more than those that did not. The use was linked with other deviant types of behavior.
Kuehn, B. (2009). Teen Steroid, Supplement Use Targeted. JAMA, 302(21), 2301. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1711
Silver, M. (2001). Use Of Ergogenic Aids By Athletes. J Am Acad Orthop Surg, 9(1), 61-70. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11174164
Anderson, S., & Bolduc, S. (1997). Adolescents and anabolic steroids: A subject review.
Pediatrics, 99(6), 904.
Bodybuilding.com. (2015). TeenBodybuilding.com - Teen Bodybuilder of The Week: Mike
Gallegos! Pics and info and more!. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from
Buildmymuscle.blogspot.com. (2010). The Negative Side Effects of Steroids ~ Building your
Muscles. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from
Calfee, R. (2006). Popular Ergogenic Drugs and Supplements in Young Athletes. Pediatrics,
117(3), e577-e589. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1429
Dermweb.com. (2015). Steroid Side Effect. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from
Intheknowzone.com. (2011). History of Steroid Use - In The Know Zone. Retrieved 6 April
2015, from http://intheknowzone.com/substance-abuse-topics/steroids/history.html
Kicman, A. (2008). Pharmacology of anabolic steroids. British Journal Of Pharmacology,
154(3), 502-521. doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.165
Kokkevi, A., Fotiou, A., Chileva, A., Nociar, A., & Miller, P. (2008). Daily Exercise and
Anabolic Steroids Use in Adolescents: A Cross-National European Study. Subst Use Misuse, 43(14), 2053-2065. doi:10.1080/10826080802279342
Kuehn, B. (2009). Teen Steroid, Supplement Use Targeted. JAMA, 302(21), 2301.
Medscape.com. (2015). Steroid Atrophy. Retrieved 6 April 2015, from
Silver, M. (2001). Use Of Ergogenic Aids By Athletes. J Am Acad Orthop Surg, 9(1), 61-70.
Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11174164
Wright, H. (2015). The 10 Most Notorious Steroid Users in Sports History. Bleacher Report.
Retrieved 6 April 2015, from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/155381-top-ten-