When people imagine steroid usage, they almost always think about sportsmen and sportswomen. But the fact that teenagers are consuming these substances is often overlooked. They may do it because of various reasons and many of them would not even realize what a significant harm they are inflicting to their bodies. Teenagers are a group of population which is often influenced by the others and the addiction they develop at this age may change their lives dramatically. This paper will attempt at describing the effects steroids have on teenagers health and the way it may negatively influence their future prospects. The reasons behind consumption of steroids among young generation will be determined and grounds for banning of these substances will be specified.
Popularity of steroids among teenagers
In order to explain the enormous popularity of steroids among teenagers, it is important to define what kind of substances they are. These are hormone-like stimulants, produced by the body and closely related to the prime male hormone, testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for the development of secondary male characteristics, such as larger muscle size, facial hair, and deepening of the voice. Steroid may be largely divided into catabolic and anabolic ones. The first ones can be advised to use by physicians in case if a person is suffering from high temperature, swelling, or inflammation. The second category of steroids does not serve any medical purpose and is primarily consumed to build muscles of the body. Among teenagers, common types of steroids used are anabolic substances, creatine, and steroids precursors. Adolescents consume anabolic performance-enhancers to build powerful muscles quickly and become stronger within a small period of time. Creatine, a substance occurring naturally in the body, performs similar action, but also improves performance during intensive workouts. Steroid precursors, like DHEA or androstenedione, are usually transformed into anabolics and are also helpful in increasing mass. All of these substances are increasingly tempting for teen athletes.
According to statistics, between 2012 and 2013 a significant growth has been witnessed in the consumption of not only regular steroids among teenagers, but also synthetic growth hormone or hGH. While in 2012 only 5 percent of adolescents used steroids and hGH, in 2013 steroids consumption constituted 7 percent and hGH was consumed on a regular basis by 11 percent of high school students. This tendency is definitely alarming in many respects. Statistically speaking, Hispanic and African-American teenagers are more prone to abusing hGH. In particular, 13 percent of the former and 15 percent of the latter confessed to having used it at least once. Current situation is alarming and it may be proven by the fact that 1 in 5 teenagers confirmed that at least one of their friends used steroids. The same quantity of the surveyed adolescents stated that it is relatively easy to buy different sorts of performance enhancers. 20-25 percent of the teenagers stated that they would choose anabolic steroids as their drug of choice.
Reasons to take steroids during puberty
There are hundreds of reasons why teenagers fancy the idea of steroids. The puberty period they are undergoing constantly forces them to compete with each other. These young adults are trying to become bigger faster, get stronger easier, and be the best at all costs. The constant pressure they feel from peers plays an important role in their decision making. What differentiates teenagers from adult users of steroids is the fact that they never worry about the consequences of their actions. Teen consumption of performance enhancing drugs usually mirrors the use of illegal drugs like marijuana and LSD over the years. The same trends which govern the use of narcotics have an influence on the steroids consumption.
There are several important reasons behind steroid popularity among teenagers. Firstly, adolescents resort to taking performance enhancers because of the low self-esteem. Puberty period may cause development of acne and weight gain therefore they may feel insecure and depressed because of the way they look. Since steroids seem to be an easy solution to the problem, they resort to consumption of these substances in an unregulated and uncontrolled way. Secondly, many teenagers suffer from bullying at school and this fact forces them to use steroids in order to get protected. Children who develop faster because of genetic peculiarities may humiliate the other ones who are weaker and smaller. It is a fact that teenagers may be extremely cruel and violent in their behavior towards others. That is why the weak kids see no other way to solve the problem of bullying than to become strong as well and seek revenge. Also, many young adults use steroids to become a part of a cool gang at school. High school is a place where all students are ascribed labels, whether they want it or not. Among the most common ones are the popular ones, the geeks, the weir ones, the loners, the school sports team members, etc. The first and the last groups very often merge and it is extremely desirable for the majority of teens to be a part of it. But every group has criteria of entrance, for example beauty or athletic complexion of body. Steroids become a way to become a member of the cool gang by means of growing muscles.
It is also very important for many teenagers to be a part of a football or basketball team. These two kinds of sports became so popularized that they are now associated with an enormous success at school. But again, every team needs strong, tall, athletic and good looking boys. Some teenagers resort to using steroids in order to become eligible candidates for a team without consideration of the possible adverse effects. It has to be mentioned that there are also cases when teenagers resort to consumption of drugs because of the pressure from parents to excel in everything. Young boys may feel obliged to make it to the school basketball or football team because their parents are constantly reminding them that they were members and it is important to continue the family tradition. Finally, many young adults are dissatisfied with their own appearance and body image. Some of them suffer from obesity, others are too skinny. Since body image is extremely important at this age, teenagers resort to all possible means in order to upgrade it. Many of them do not have enough willpower to force themselves do physical exercises. In this case steroids are becoming an easy way out.
Influence of steroids on health and future
Young people today are abusing steroids for various reasons without keeping in mind the consequences and long-term effects they cause to the body. The dangers performance enhancers constitute for the organism which is still being formed can be psychological and physiological. The first category of risks is important because teenagers are still undergoing puberty, which is a very special period of human development. It is a time when it is very easy to develop an addiction because everything adolescents try and like may stick and they will not be able to refuse it anymore. During the period of puberty all insecurities resurface and dependencies start. Decision made in this time may affect significantly the future lifestyle preferences as well as cause the development of bad habits.
Among the most significant physiological consequences of steroids usage in teenage years is stunting of the growth plates. Adolescence is a period of active growth, which is still not finished. Growth plates are not set completely at that time and extra testosterone may slow down the whole process. It means that the person who starts using testosterone at that time risks to remain short for the rest of the life. One more complication that may occur is severe bone pain it is also connected to the fact that growing continues and growth plates are not set. Teenagers take an unnecessary risk to grow muscles and as a result halt important processes in the organism.
Another important negative result of steroid consumption in the teenage age is not restorable deterioration of some body systems. Firstly, irreversible changes in reproduction systems may take place, if the boy or girl takes steroids for a certain period of time. For example, the quantity of sperm may decrease significantly, as well as the size of the testicles. Boys may also suffer from enlargement of breasts, which in turn may cause a significant distress and anxiety. Girls report development of some male characteristics in their bodies. In particular, the quantity of bodily hair may increase, breasts size may reduce without any reason, and the voice may become deeper and start resembling male one. It is very important for teenage girls to understand that drugs which have testosterone at its base neutralize the function of estrogen in a female organism. This hormone is crucial for the development of a young lady because it influences the development of the reproductive system to a great extent. It also plays a key role in the manifestation of secondary sex characteristics. If there is not enough estrogen in a female body, especially if this is a teenager, it may cause visible irregularities of the menstrual cycle and in the future may prevent the girl from having a baby because of infertility.
Steroids also cause irreversible and life threatening changes to the cardiovascular system of teenagers. These substances may be the reasons of different minor and major issues. For instance, steroids may cause frequent nosebleeds and inability of wound to heal quickly. Moreover, they may be responsible for such serious conditions as high blood pressure and hypertension, as well as such a condition as embolism. The regular consumption of these performance enhancers may also cause high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Glucose may also rise if boys and girls inject steroids on a regular basis. This fact in turn may result in development of early diabetes. Steroids may also cause deterioration of the immune system of the adolescent. If to be more precise, these performance enhancers are suppressing it and, as a result, the organism is more prone to developing diseases caused by viral and bacterial infections.
Digestive system of teenagers is also suffering to a great extent because of steroids. These substances are very often increasing appetite and causing weight gain in both boys and girls as a consequence. Adolescents may have difficulties controlling what they eat and suffer from obesity as a result. In more severe cases, steroids may cause liver disease and kidney failure. Steroids may induce an irreversible damage to the nervous system of the teenager. The individual sleeping rhythm of the adolescent may be affected to such an extent, that insomnia may develop as a consequence. Steroids may cause psychological and emotional problems in a vulnerable psycho of teenagers, who are developing very actively during this stage in their lives. There are numerous side effects, which are usually associated with usage of performance enhancing drugs. Some of them are anxiety disorders and depression, which in turn may induce suicidal tendencies and violence episodes. Others also include frequent mood swings and generally impulsive behavior, as well as hallucinations and confusion symptoms.
Steroids must be banned
It has to be stressed once and for all steroids can never substitute a proper nutrition and hard work. They may seem to be a magical potion that does not have any bad sides. But the reality is that steroids are not an easy fix to all the existing problems, they are only a start of the new ones. The role of parents is important in guarding teenagers from negative consequences of performance enhancing drugs consumption. Mothers and fathers have to provide excellent role models for their children and stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle. They also have to teach adolescents to be patient and not to expect immediate results of everything they do. Parents need to emphasize that decision to take steroids cannot be made at such an early age. The consumption of performance-enhancing drugs may be justified in case of some diseases which cannot be cured with them, but not simply to look better. Parents also have to realize that by forcing their children to excel at all costs they are not doing any good. In this win-at-all-costs society it is important to remember that a teenagers are still not completely formed individuals and pressure to be the best may be psychologically damaging for them.
Testing for steroids is to be introduced in every high school and it has to be monitored by external observers. It is very important to detect steroid abuse at its start, because at that point it may not have caused any irreversible damage to all body systems and may not have halted the growth and development. Another helpful idea may be the foundation of Stay Healthy programs that would reinforce a healthy lifestyle and promote safe decisions, as well as provide education on the topic of steroids and their effects. But the most effective means to fight with steroid abuse among teens is definitely a complete prohibition. The law which bans performance enhancing drugs sales in the whole country is the best solution to this problem. It will not only put the usage of steroids into an illegal category but also it will clearly emphasize the danger they pose for the adolescents.
In conclusion, teenagers are put into a grave danger because of consuming steroids. Even though many health issues are proved to result from them, adolescents continue to use and abuse these performance enhancers since they do not realize this fact to the full. Steroids are not only harmful to the young body which is actively developing, but also may have adverse effects on the future career and family prospects of the juvenile. The use of performance-enhancing drugs may inadvertently cause both psychological and physiological pain. Thus, the negative influence they have on the young and inexperienced generations has to be stopped. Its detrimental effects are unavoidable, especially at a young age. It would be advisable for the government to regulate the situation with performance-enhancers usage and pass a law that would prohibit consumption of these substances altogether. If all parents love their children and want only the brightest future for them, they have to support the initiative for a complete prohibition of steroids.