Steroids and Teens

What Steroids Can Do To You;
An Article for Parents & Teens.

Over the past decade, anabolic steroid abuse became a national concern. These drugs are used illicitly by weight lifters, body builders, long distance runners, cyclists, and others who claim that these drugs give them a competitive advantage and or improve their physical appearance.

Overall youth steroid use remains alarmingly high. According to the 1999 Monitoring the Future Study, the percentage of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders who reported using steroids at least once in their lives has increased steadily over the past four years (an average of 1.8 percent in 1996, 2.1 percent in 1997, 2.3 percent in 1998, and 2.8 percent in 1999).

The truth is… the use of steroids is a growing problem among today’s teenagers, who among other things get a large portion of their misunderstood information from the fitness industry and “muscle magazines”. While it is evident that there exists a growing use of steroids, there most definitely is no indication that the issue is going to fade away without some kind of intervention. It should be noted, that there are many obvious risks and side effects from teen steroid abuse.
Several of these SIDE EFFECTS include:

  •  Sterility
  • Premature ossification (closing over) of growth plates in long bones (stunted growth)
  • Aggressiveness
  • Acne
  • Connective tissue injury – irreversible
  • Masculinization (among women)

gal leg curlsEven more scary, there is evidence that teens today are more afraid of NOT experimenting with and using steroids. It is crucial to understand the reasons if we are to attempt to find a solution.
Some of the reasons that teens gave were:

  • Not making the sports team
  • Not meeting peer pressure and demands
  • Not getting “the girls”
  • Not being able to compete with others who are using steroids
  • Not looking as good as you could

Some Side Effects  For Him & Her


Lifetime Use of Steroids: 8th Graders, 10th Graders and 12th Graders 1991-1999

steroid graph

balance beamToday’s teens have seen many of their athletic role models admit to some form of steroid use at some time in their lives. This may be giving them mixed messages. It may suggest that steroid use is the necessary ingredient to develop a career in sports.

Many of these same teens also feel they are invincible — able to withstand any fear or reservations that may exist about the use of these drugs. In addition, they are reluctant to believe any warnings offered by the medical community and the media, who so often have delivered alarmist attitudes towards steroid use.

Parents and coaches can also be found guilty of placing emphasis on young athletes:

  • They often push young athletes into sports development programs.
  • Glorify youngsters who are willing to risk their bodies and morals in order to win.
  • Demand that young athletes aspire to greatness at any cost.

Adults have a great impact (positive or negative) on the actions of teenagers, so it is crucial that parents and educators be aware of the impact of steroids on teenagers. Teenagers also have a great impact on the actions of other teens!

If you have a friend who is using steroids, talk to them, they just might listen to you.

There are also socio-cultural factors that play a role in steroid use:

  • Locker room talk becomes the place to pass along twisted information from one teen to another, in order to justify drug use.
  • Taking risks is essential to the success of great athletes, where in order to be drafted and make million of dollars you must take chances (like steroids). These are common perceptions be they right or wrong, they exist.
  • Group dynamics – Where a group of guys will collectively agree to the positive effects of steroids. This dynamic occurs more easily than with one’s independent judgment. Conforming to peer pressure and pressure from older siblings, older teammates and magazine heroes.

Ultimately, how will we control and compact the rampant use of these drugs?

The only viable option is to educate adults and teens and to find alternatives to steroids so teens can opt for a less risky supplement. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has set up an Internet site at: The NIDA is at:     Also recommended:

steroid photo
Photo of common steroids, not actual size.

Other Popular Supplements with Athletes:


Creatine has become a very popular product with teen athletes. Annual sales total over 200 million dollars. It is advertised as a natural product that will provide larger, more powerful muscles.

Creatine is actually an essential amino acid, meaning that it is a necessary nutrient for human beings. It can be produced by the body from other amino acids, such as arginine and glycine. It may also be provided in the diet — creatine occurs naturally in fish, milk, meat, and other foods.

Studies performed on adult athletes indicate that creatine may increase muscle mass, probably due to the retention of fluid. More importantly, the athlete who is undergoing intense exercise training and taking creatine may increase his or her power for short-term sports action, such as sprinting and playing football. Thus, it is very popular with high school football players and track athletes. Some coaches, trainers, and even parents have pushed this product on their athletes in the hope of producing winners.

So what is wrong with taking creatine?
Creatine has received very little scientific study. We do not know anything about its long-term effects. We do not know what doses are best and what is excessive. The doses kids take are varied and often mixed with other drugs or chemicals that have their own unknown effects. The stores that sell creatine have no idea how pure the product is, how much to use, or when to stop.

We do know that creatine produces no improvement in long term endurance activities. A number of side effects are possible, including abdominal pain, nausea, loose stools, increase in weight due to the retention of water, muscle cramps, and muscle strains. Case reports indicate that dehydration and even death may occur when athletes take creatine and exercise in hot weather. Reduction in kidney function and enlargement of the heart muscle have been observed in kids. Additionally, creatine supplementation suppresses the body’s own production of creatine. We do not know what effects this may have on a growing child. There are simply too many unknowns about creatine at this time. It would be wise to stop the current hype.


DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is another chemical that is related to testosterone (and also estrogen) and promoted in nutrition stores. It is widely advertised as a wonder drug that will improve muscle size and strength, lessen depression, prevent heart disease, and increase sex drive among other unproved claims. A reputed fountain of youth, it has special appeal to adult athletes. Though hyped as a safe alternative to anabolic steroids, it is not safe and is linked to many anabolic steroid-like side effects. Excessive hair growth and endometrial cancer are reported in women, while prostate cancer and permanent breast development are reported in men. Yes, this natural product is found in human adrenal glands. It is, however, a dangerous chemical. Young people and adults alike should be discouraged from using it.

Thanks go out to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the use of their information and graphics.


Ephedra is one of the most dangerous of the dietary supplements. Ephedrine-containing products (ma huang, Chinese ephedra, and Sida cordifolia) and Xenedrine are marketed to improve athletic performance and enhance weight loss.

Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant and decongestant that is structurally similar to the amphetamines. Ephedrine is effective for relieving bronchial asthma, but increases heart rate and blood pressure. Contrary to popular belief, there is no good evidence that substances containing ephedrine enhance one’s exercise performance. It is banned by the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association. Over 800 injuries have been reported by users and doctors to the FDA and various state medical bodies, including more than 50 deaths. Most of these cases involve the heart attacks or high blood pressure leading to bleeding in the brain or stroke.

Recent studies show that many people are seriously injured by the use of ephedrine. They are often unaware that ephedrine suppliers are can make wide ranging health claims about the product that have no scientific basis. Nor is there any mention of the potential for dangerous side effects. Because the industry was lobbied to pass a law deregulating these products in l994, the FDA has been unable to regulate these products.

The FDA statement on street drugs containing botanical ephedrine FDA is warning consumers not to purchase or consume ephedrine-containing dietary supplements with labels that often portray the products as apparent alternatives to illegal street drugs such as ecstasy.

Possible adverse effects of ephedrine range from clinically significant effects such as heart attack, stroke, seizures, psychosis, and death, to clinically less significant effects that may indicate the potential for more serious effects (for example, dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal distress, irregular heartbeat, and heart palpitations). Ingredient panels on these products may list ma huang, Chinese ephedra, ma huang extract, ephedra, Ephedra sinica, ephedra extract, ephedra herb powder, or epitonin, all of which indicate a source of ephedrine.
Baltimore pitcher Steve Bechler’s toxicology report began the baseball’s industry call for science-based ephedra regulations. Many products containing ephedra have been removed from store shelves on a voluntary basis.

Amy - Teen's Health Expert

By Amy - Teen's Health Expert

Discover the dedicated author behind Teen Health Secrets, an experienced expert committed to providing in-depth knowledge and guidance on various aspects of teen health, ensuring young individuals lead healthy, informed lives.