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Sports are supposed to be a healthy way to stay fit. And for many young people, they are. But for some, heavy competition and/or pressure to succeed in sports leads to a very unhealthy and dangerous habit - anabolic steroids. In fact, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, the non-medical use of anabolic steroids among adolescents and young adult is a serious concern.
Basically, anabolic steroids are hormonal drugs. They are used medically to treat specific conditions. But they are also being used by athletes to enhance their performance. And that's where the biggest danger is.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says there are a number of different types of anabolic steroids. Some are derivatives of testosterone, the male hormone. As a result, these types of anabolic steroids mimic the bodybuilding effect of testosterone; in other words, they increase muscle mass and strength. That increase in size and strength is the hoped-for end result among athletes who are illegally using these drugs. But there can be devastating side effects as well.
Anabolic steroids are potent drugs. Even when used for legitimate medical purposes, they require careful monitoring. But when used for non-medical reasons by athletes, they can be especially dangerous. Users can become overly aggressive. The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information says they can exhibit sudden changes in behavior including:
NIDA says users can develop acne, jaundice, cataracts, high blood pressure and/or liver damage. (Read about "Acne" "Jaundice" "Cataracts" "Hypertension: High Blood Pressure" "The Liver") Men may develop impotence, enlarged prostate, baldness. (Read about "Erectile Dysfunction" "The Prostate" "Alopecia Areata") They may start to develop breasts. Women may lose their periods (Read about "Menstrual Disorders") or develop facial hair. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration adds that since athletes who are using these types of drugs most often obtain them illegally, users have additional risks, including the risk of contracting AIDS (Read about "HIV / AIDS") through shared needles.
Because of all this, parents of teenage athletes should discuss the dangers of steroid use with their children and be aware of potential signs of misuse. (Read about "Talking About Drug Abuse") And it's important for all athletes to remember that athletic performance can be enhanced through legitimate ways such as proper diet and training, in a way that is far healthier than relying on dangerous drugs.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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