Despite the fact that anabolic steroids are illegal and can cause health problems, some teenage athletes are willing to use them anyway to help improve their muscle mass and strength. Maybe they believe that steroid use is their ticket to pro sports or a college scholarship. Tell your teen that the harmful effects of steroids are just not worth it.
Steroids can cause many different side effects, some more serious than others. Less serious side effects are acne, oily hair, swelling in the legs and feet, red spots on the body and bad breath. Side effects that are more serious are premature balding, dizziness, anger (sometimes called “roid” rage), hallucinations, paranoia, sleeping problems, nausea, vomiting, trembling, high blood pressure, aching joints, liver damage and an increased risk of developing a stroke, heart disease or some types of cancer. Steroids can halt bone growth, and they can cause impotence in males. Because steroids are an artificially produced male hormone, a girl who take them can develop unpleasant side effects such as increased facial hair, a deeper voice, shrinking breasts and changes in her period. Some effects of steroids are permanent.
The police can arrest your teen for taking anabolic steroids. To get around this, teens can buy supplements over the Internet or order them through ads they find in body building magazines. The supplements may contain anabolic steroids; some of them are legal. But, that doesn’t make them any healthier for your teen.
Common substitutes for anabolic steroids are creatine and dehydroepiandrosterone, also called DHEA. Your teen can buy both of these substitutes over-the-counter. Athletes take creatine to enhance recovery after a workout and to build strength and muscle mass. Side effects are weight gain, nausea, kidney damage and muscle cramps. The body coverts DHEA into anabolic steroids. Side effects are similar to the ones associated with anabolic steroids.
Your teen also faces a moral dilemma by taking steroids. Many people believe that athletes who use steroids gain an unfair advantage over athletes who play by the rules. Your teen may have to prepare herself for when others accuse her of cheating. Athletic directors may even ban her from the sport.
What You Can Do
Talk with your teen about how you feel about steroid use. Tell him it’s cheating and that he can damage his health. Tell him that you do not allow him to use steroids and that if he does, he must quit his sport. Attend his games. Get to know the coaches to determine their stance on performance-enhancing drugs. If you discover that your teen is using steroids or a steroid substitute, help him stop. Take him to a doctor, and tell his coach about his steroid use.