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Why Anabolic Steroids Are Dangerous

Young man with weights

Is steroid misuse a problem among teenagers? The latest Monitoring the Future survey found that only 1.1 percent of 10th-graders have used steroids in their lifetime. However, the fact that other substances are being misused more often by adolescents doesn’t make steroid misuse any less dangerous.

What Are Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are medications that are actually synthetic variations of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Nandrolone, oxymetholone, oxandrolone and testosterone cypionate are common types of steroids, and they’re often prescribed to patients whose muscles have deteriorated due to a serious illness.

These steroids are commonly used by individuals who try to add muscle in order to achieve fitness or athletic goals. Steroids can be delivered to the body in a variety of ways, including through pills, capsules, creams, gels, patches or injectable solutions. While they can build muscle, continued misuse of steroids can cause irritability, paranoia, impaired judgment or delusions in teenagers. “Roid rage” is a term that is often used to describe the anger and mood swings exhibited by steroid misusers.

Addiction Is a Risk

Though they aren’t as addictive as illicit drugs or alcohol, steroids are strong enough for adolescents to become dependent on or even addicted to them. Over time, these substances can impact neural pathways and the delivery of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine throughout the brain.

People who try to stop using steroids may experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, restlessness, insomnia and loss of appetite or sex drive. In some cases, people who use steroids may fall into depression and even attempt suicide.

Hazards of Persistent Steroid Misuse

A concern about steroid misuse in teenagers involves the long-term damage that these substances can inflict on a growing and maturing body. Adolescents may actually see retardation in their bone growth or their height if they start consuming steroids early in their teens.

Other long-term effects of steroid misuse include:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney problems
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Enlarged heart
  • Baldness

Young woman running

Also, females may develop excess body or facial hair or deal with menstrual cycle changes. Males who use steroids experience an increased risk of prostate cancer or shrinking sex organs, lower sperm counts or even breast development.

To make matters worse, some adolescents consume alcohol during the periods when they are misusing anabolic steroids. In addition to causing more severe liver and kidney damage, mixing alcohol with steroids can lead to dehydration, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal issues and chest pains. Sometimes, this combination leads to an increase in violent behavior.

Dealing With Teen Steroid Misuse

Many high schools have implemented protocols to combat steroid use among their students, including educating teens about the dangers of misusing these substances. For those teenagers who experience steroid misuse or addiction, behavioral therapy offers great promise in treating these patients and helping them with their recovery.

Please remember: no amount of anabolic steroid use is safe for teens unless prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate medical issue. That’s why parents can view the idea of steroid use among adolescents in the same vein as misuse of alcohol, marijuana or illicit drugs.

If your teenaged son or daughter misuses anabolic steroids, alcohol or illicit drugs, contact Next Generation Village to see if addiction treatment is an appropriate option to explore.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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