Sue Scheff: Steroids and Teens – The Dangers

With the recent admission in the news about Mark McGwire using steroids throughout his career has shocked some people.  How do we explain this to our children and our teens, especially our athletic ones that looked up to this sports hero?

Ad Council started a campaign a few years ago, Don’t Be An Asterisk. Whether it is a potential college scholarship or just helping the team win, some teens feel pressure to do whatever it takes to get an “edge“, even if it means taking steroids or other illegal substances.

Use this opportunity to explain to your teens about the dangers of steroid use. 

  • Steroids affect your heart. Steroid abuse has been associated with cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. These heart problems can even happen to athletes under the age of 30.
  • Steroids affect your appearance. In both sexes, steroids can cause male-pattern baldness, cysts, acne, and oily hair and skin.
  • Steroids affect your mood. Steroids can make you angry and hostile for no reason. There are recorded cases of murder attributed to intense anger from steroid use.
  • Steroids increase your risk of infection. Sharing needles or using dirty needles to inject steroids puts you at risk for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Help them to be aware of more risks:

  • Know the law. Steroids are illegal to possess without a prescription from a licensed physician. It is illegal for individuals to sell steroids.
  • Get the facts. Doctors prescribe steroids for specific medical conditions. They are only safe for use when a doctor monitors the person.
  • Know the risks. Illegal steroids are made overseas and smuggled into the United States or made in underground labs in this country. They pose greater health risks because they are not regulated by the government and may not be pure or labeled correctly.
  • Look around you. The majority of teens aren’t using steroids. Among teenage males, who are most likely to use steroids, only 1.8 percent of 8th graders, 2.3 percent of 10th graders, and 3.2 percent of 12th graders reported steroid use in the past year.

Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Be an educated parent, have safer and healthier teens!

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