Dealing With Teen Steroid Abuse


Parents are normally faced with teen problems because it is at this stage that children would be exploring so many things. They may feel they are old enough to do certain things, and peer pressure is an even bigger problem to deal with. As a result, many of them succumb to teen steroid abuse and other forms of addiction.

In this article, we will discuss teen steroid abuse, and how to deal with it, in case it happens to a teenager in your family or community.

teen steroid abuse body image

Background on Teen Drug Abuse

Most often, teens would come to their friends for comfort and acceptance because they do not feel the sense of belonging in their own families. Venting out their problems to friends gives them a feeling of satisfaction and greatness.

Being around people that could be a positive influence to these teens will definitely help enrich their lives. But sometimes, what happens is otherwise. When teens hang out with the wrong kind of group, they end up as delinquents.

On this day and age, we know how young as 13 years old are already hooked on certain types of drugs. They may either be unaware of the ill effects it would do to their bodies, or they choose to ignore the truth. Either way, long-term use of any kind of drug will affect their overall well-being.

What are steroids?

Steroids are organic compounds that the body normally produces. They act by helping organs, tissues and cells to do their specific functions.

Steroids, however, can also refer to man-made medicines. These may be categorized under two kinds:

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are generally used to treat asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, some forms of cancer, and skin disorders such as rashes and eczema.

The risk of having side effects would depend on the type of steroid, dose, age and length of treatment. There are different forms of corticosteroids with varying side effects:

Oral Steroids

This type of corticosteroid may be used for less than three weeks without causing any side effects. However, there are certain conditions which might require taking them longer.

Oral steroids that have been taken for more than one week may cause:

  • Acne
  • Increased appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Rapid mood wings
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Easily bruised

Steroid Injections

There is usually pain and swelling on the area where the steroid has been injected but usually disappears within two days. It is because of these side effects that steroid injection is given at 6-week intervals and only with a maximum of three injections into one area.

Application of steroid injection may cause any of the following:

  • Muscle and tendon weakness
  • Blushing
  • Thinning and lightening of the skin on the injected area

Steroid Inhalers

A very common side effect after using steroid inhalers is the formation of oral thrush or fungal infection in the mouth cavity. It is advised to rinse the mouth with water after using steroid inhalers.

Some of its side effects include:

  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Minor nosebleeds
  • Sore mouth and throat

Most of these side effects usually stop as soon as you have lowered the dose or have completely stopped taking them.

anabolic steroid injection

Anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances usually given as treatment for delayed puberty and to those who have difficulty in producing testosterone.

These are also commonly referred to as performance-enhancing drugs, often used by athletes. It works by increasing muscle strength and mass and enhances bone strength.

Anabolic steroids are currently classified as Schedule III controlled substances. Anyone caught using steroids without a prescription or those who may be using steroids with an expired prescription may be labeled as a steroid abuser. This has been reinforced in 2004 by the Anabolic Steroid Act of 1990.

Long-term use of anabolic steroid may destroy normal production of testosterone. Its effect differs between men and women.

Decreased testosterone levels in men may lead to:

  • Lower sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Smaller testicles
  • Breast growth

Meanwhile, decreased testosterone in women may lead to:

  • Facial hair growth
  • Amenorrhea
  • Deeper voice
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Enlarged clitoris

When anabolic steroids are used in higher doses, it can cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. It can also increase your bad cholesterol which can cause heart attack or stroke regardless of age.

Teens using anabolic steroids may experience stunting of bone growth and height.

Commonly abused steroids other than testosterone are:

  • Androstenedione
  • Boldenone
  • Decanoate
  • Methandrostenalone
  • Mestanolone
  • Methyltestosterone
  • Nandrolone
  • Oxandrolone
  • Oxymetholone
  • Stanozolol
  • Trenbolone

A number of common street names for anabolic steroids include the following:

  • A-bomb
  • Arnolds
  • Gear
  • Gym candy
  • Pumpers
  • Stackers
  • Test
  • Weight Trainers
  • Winnie

Why are steroids being abused?

Anabolic steroids are given as treatment only with a doctor’s prescription. However, some individuals would use illegal anabolic steroids as a means to increase their muscle mass, lower body fat, and increase strength. It has become a means for athletes to improve on how they play the sport.

An earlier study discovered that females who are taking anabolic steroids were rape victims in the past. Since the assault, they wanted to increase their strength and build bigger muscles to intimidate any possible perpetrators.

From a series of interviews conducted on bodybuilders, it was known that at least 25% of the bodybuilders have encountered physical or sexual abuse during their childhood.

Another group of steroid users are those who want to lose body fat. These people are actually looking at themselves as fat and weak but in reality, they have normal-looking bodies. This is a behavioral condition called muscle dysmorphia.

Steroid abuse can cause the following:

  • Very bad acne
  • Fluid retention
  • Jaundice
  • Trembling
  • Halitosis
  • Aching joints

teen body image steroid use

Facts and Figures on Teen Steroid Abuse

The number of teens who may be involved in illegal drugs may have significant decreased in the past two years. However, teens account for the 75% steroid users in the country.

According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Study, a stable or slight decline of anabolic steroid use in teens was observed, except for 12th graders.

Here are the rates of steroid use among middle school students:

  • 1% among 8th
  • 2% among 10th graders.
  • 3% among 12th graders.

Steroid use among these teens are no longer much involved with sports as they have seen that teens use this substance as a means of enhancing their looks. These adolescents want to feel accepted by others that they go to such great lengths just to make themselves look and feel good about themselves.

Here are more statistics and figures on teen steroid abuse:

  • It has been estimated that about 1.5 million kids in the U.S. have tried steroids. In some cases, these teens may be using more than one steroid at a time. This is a very dangerous process called stacking.
  • Anabolic steroid users are 12 times more likely to have used cocaine.
  • Alcohol is the most common substance mixed with steroid use.
  • Boys are more likely to use anabolic steroids than girls.
  • Teens who have been prescribed with steroids to help them with their growth would sometimes resell these steroids to their classmates, which is a common way for teens to earn some money to buy illegal drugs.
  • About 2.5% of females have tried anabolic steroids at least once.
  • Females use steroids as weight loss supplement.

Effects of Steroids on the Brain

Steroid use can affect the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for controlling mood. It has been observed that long-term steroid use may lead to the inability to control mood, thereby resulting to mood swings, as well as increased levels of hostility and aggression.

Long-term teen steroid abuse may also cause the following psychological conditions such as:

  • Delusions
  • Feeling invisible
  • Jealousy
  • Paranoia

Signs of Possible Steroid Abuse

It is likely that a teen is taking steroids when you suddenly see these changes:

  • Severe acne
  • Short temper and aggression (also called “roid rage”)
  • Mood swings
  • Stunted growth
  • Hallucinations
  • Missing school
  • Unhealthy amount of competitiveness
  • Abnormal increase in muscle mass

To check if someone is using steroids, check on the person’s bag or bedroom drawers for vials, resealable plastic bags or hypodermic needles. Steroids can be bought from the internet or acquired from friends.

steroid abuse fitness

How to Approach a Teen Suspected of Steroid Abuse

If you hint that your teen may be abusing any substance, it is best to talk to him/her calmly rather than become hostile. It is in no way an appropriate approach to anyone, regardless of what kind of issue that needs to be resolved.

Most often, teens turn to drugs because they feel lost and unloved by the family. Sometimes, we could not blame them for feeling that way because some parents have become awfully busy with their jobs that they barely have time to check on what is happening to their children and just rely on the fact that they know that the kids are home. More often than not, children just need their parents’ affirmation to make them feel secure.

When talking to them, here are some basic things that you can start asking or telling your kids:

  • Ask your teen what could be causing him/her to be doing drugs or if there is something that he/she would want you to know about.
  • Provide solutions to the problems presented.
  • Know the extent of involvement of your teen with the illegal substance.
  • Inform him/her about the consequences of his/her act – physically and psychologically.
  • Make your teenage children aware of the laws and penalties governing teen steroid abuse.

If in case your teen is heavily hooked, let him know that he needs the help of a rehabilitation center so that he may be completely treated and return to his normal life once again.

Treatment for Teen Steroid Abuse

The treatment for teen steroid abuse is the same as treating those who have had other forms of substance addiction. The help of a rehabilitation center is needed most especially that withdrawal symptoms may be unbearable to be treated at home.

Such withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks. Unfavorable symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings

Clinical depression is linked to steroid withdrawal. This is a very difficult stage wherein the individual has the possibility of harming himself to the point of committing suicide.

Depression may remain for a time even after years of stopping steroid use. During this stage, it is important that the individual continues to undergo psychological treatment from an addiction counselor. A very effective way in helping recovering addicts gain their lives back is for their families and friends to show love and support.

Helpful Links and Sources

http://drugabuse.com/library/the-effects-of-steroid-use

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Corticosteroid-(drugs)/Pages/Sideeffects.aspx

http://www.medicinenet.com/corticosteroids-oral/article.htm

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/monitoring-future-2016-survey-results

http://www.anabolicsteroids.net/roid-rage.php

https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/4658

https://www.anred.com/musdys.html

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