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Teen boys who start using anabolic steroids typically do it to improve their athletic performance. These drugs work by promoting muscle growth, leading to physical performance and enhanced strength. The teens will see famous athletes admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs. This sometimes will put it into their mind that to be famous, to get that football scholarship, or just to look like that guy, they need to use it as well.
Steroid use is not common among teenage girls. Side effects of girls using steroids can become masculinized, with more body hair, smaller breasts, and fewer or interrupted menstrual periods. Teens who are obsessed with their looks and physical performance ignore the risks. Anabolic steroids are classified as a controlled substances, but if you look, they are pretty easy to find. 40 percent of 12th graders described anabolic steroids as “very easy” to get.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic forms of the hormone testosterone that can be taken orally, injected, or rubbed on the skin. Although a 2006 survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that less than 3 percent of 12th graders had used anabolic steroids. The abuse of anabolic steroids by teens can cause serious health effects and behavioral changes.
Anabolic steroids are most commonly started in later teenage years rather than adolescence. Young people and teen boys who use anabolic steroids may be at an increased risk for some cognitive side effects compared to adults. Steroids affect your hormonal system. These harsh drugs interact with the critical roles in brain development during these years. Exposure to anabolic steroids increases neuronal spine densities in the hippocampus and amygdala—brain regions involved in learning and emotions, and aggression. For example, people who begin using anabolic steroids during their teen years show increased impulsivity and decreased attention, compared to those who began using steroids in their adult years. Four weeks after withdrawal, these increases in neuronal spine densities return to normal in the amygdala, but not in the hippocampus. This suggests that pubertal steroid exposure could produce long-lasting structural changes in certain brain regions. When teenagers misuse steroids they lack proper medical supervision and have been known to take doses 10 to 100 times higher than the amount prescribed for medical reasons.
Doctors can prescribe steroids as a means to treat hormonal issues, like delayed puberty as well as to treat diseases that cause muscle loss due to cancer, AIDS, etc. When used in the correct manner these treatments can be beneficial.
According to the U. S. Department of Justice Diversion Control Division, “anabolic steroids dispensed for legitimate medical purposes are administered in several ways including intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, by mouth, pellet implantation under the skin and by application to the skin (e.g. gels or patches).” Anabolic steroids are never prescribed to healthy teenagers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded a study in 2018 that found that about 0.5% of high school senior females reported having used anabolic steroids in the last 12 months, which was nearly one-third the rate of use by their male counterparts.
From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Anabolic steroids are synthetic, or human-made, variations of the male sex hormone testosterone.”
It can be hard to detect teenage steroid use because some of the symptoms copy typical adolescent behaviors. However, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) provides examples of signs and symptoms that could be indicative of teen steroid use, some of which include the following:
Anabolic steroids are classified as Schedule III controlled substances, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are defined as “drugs, substances, or chemicals with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” According to the Mayo Clinic, possible side effects can include:
If you suspect your teen is using steroids give us a call today. We can help you find treatment for anabolic steroid use in your teen son, daughter, or any young adult struggling with peer pressure, addiction, or mental issues.
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