It’s in the media, schools and all around us.

March 27th, 2013 | By Lindsey Ebert No Comments

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In today’s appearance- and performance-driven society, the temptation to use steroids appears to be increasing. A steroid abuser could be anyone, from a high school baseball player trying to make the varsity team to a professional bicyclist striving to make history or a teenage girl determined to obtain the media’s idea of a ‘perfect’ body. Regardless of their goal, all of these people are faced with a decision: achieve success the natural way or with the help of steroids.
Anabolic steroids are a synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone. Taking this drug helps the user build muscle faster. Getting fit is important, so steroids can’t be too bad, right? Wrong. Anabolic steroids have serious side effects that can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

Taylor Hooton was an average teenager from Plano, TX, where he pitched for his high school baseball team. As a junior, he was determined to be the starting pitcher for the varsity team the following year. He was told that, in order to do this, he needed to get bigger and stronger. Hooton, determined to succeed, secretly began taking anabolic steroids.

The steroids soon began to show their results. Taylor gained 30 pounds of mostly muscle. However, as often happens, bad results came with the good. Taylor began showing common side-effects of steroid use: acne, a puffy face, emotional outbursts, and eventually, depression. While Taylor’s parents did notice these changes in his body and attitude, they were still completely unaware that their son was abusing steroids.

On July 15, 2003, Taylor lost his life at the age of 17 as a result of his anabolic steroid abuse.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation was created by his family in Taylor’s memory. The foundation strives to educate everyone, from parents to athletes, about the devastating effects of steroid abuse.

Brian Parker, Educational Program Manager for the foundation, speaks to groups all over the country about steroids and other dangerous supplements not regulated by the FDA. “The dangers of APEDs [appearance and performance enhancing drugs] are very undervalued in our society, and bringing them to the forefront is something I think is needed and important,” says Parker.

Parker believes that when parents talk to their kids about steroids, they should tell them both the positive and negative side effects. “Steroids will make you bigger and stronger, and telling a child otherwise makes you lose credibility. But if you tell a child what these drugs are made of, where they are coming from, and what they can do to you in addition to the positives, then that balanced approach comes across as more knowledgeable,” said Parker.
When talking about the dangers of anabolic steroids, effects on your health are normally at the forefront of discussion. Steroids affect the body in a variety of ways, including side effects such as:

  • Stunted bone growth
  • Blood disorders
  • Acne
  • Liver cysts
  • Hypertension

In addition to the toll steroids take on your body, they can also have negative psychological effects, including:

  • ‘Roid rage,’ which refers to the increased aggression that the user may experience
  • Severe depression
  • Unhealthy restlessness
  • Psychological addiction

 

Not only do steroids have tremendous negative effects on the body and mind, they are also regarded as short-cuts or cheating in sports. Millions watched recently as Lance Armstrong, a famous professional cyclist, won the Tour De France seven consecutive times. However, the whole world then also watched as every title Armstrong had won was stripped from him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2012 when it was discovered that he was ‘doping.’
Many professional athletes claim that the only way they could compete at such a high level is with the help of steroids. These claims often alter the definition of success among younger generation athletes who look up to these professionals.

Oconee County High School Athletic Director Brian Deitz recognizes this within high school athletics. “I believe that student-athletes look up to professional athletes,” says Deitz, “and this influences decisions on everything they do including behavior, what they wear, what they say.” Deitz believes that the key to preventing young athletes from abusing anabolic steroids is by providing the facts. “I think that most important thing is educating our youth in and out school. If student-athletes are educated about the subject then they can make an informed decision,” states Deitz.

Ron Courson, the Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia, agrees that the best way to combat steroid use is through education. UGA’s athletic training and nutrition departments do this using a variety of methods including a program for drug testing education, speakers and posting flyers in athletic facilities.

Another way the university ensures that their athletes abstain from these steroids is through drug tests. The UGA athletic department has its own drug testing policy (which performs drug tests weekly) in addition to NCAA mandated drug testing. Failing drug tests can have very serious consequences, including a year of suspension plus losing a year of athletic eligibility. This strong stance against drug abuse not only ensures that athletes train and eat properly, but it also guarantees that everyone is ‘playing fair.’

States Courson, “Sports have many attributes that you learn in terms of discipline and sportsmanship and fair play, and I think the use of anabolic steroids violates that because you’re competing on an uneven playing field. And, even if you are successful, how do you feel knowing that you used a drug that enabled you to basically cheat to get those results?”

Although steroid use is in the media spotlight fairly frequently, ongoing and far-reaching discussion and education are needed. With the help of the Internet, purchasing steroids is easier than ever, putting even young teens at risk of becoming dependent on these drugs. To combat this issue, discussion must begin in the home and be supported in schools and beyond. As Deitz says, “If children know that you care and understand then hopefully they can feel you are open enough to answer questions.”

Some eye-opening information and helpful resources about anabolic steroid use among young athletes can be found at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.

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