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Anabolic Steroids: And the High School Athlete

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Anabolic Steroids: And the High School Athlete

Anabolic steroid abuse has become a national concern among high school athletes. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of athletes using these performance enhancing drugs in high school almost double the number using since the 1980's. These athletes feel that steroids gives them the competitive edge that they think they need to boost themselves past the competition.

Steroids have been used in bodybuilding and other sports since the 1950's. Nowadays, athletes from all walks of life use them. It's not uncommon for athletes such as bodybuilders, football players, boxers, sprinters, and especially powerlifters to use them on a year round basis. Some professional bodybuilders admit to using over 10 times the normal effective dosage for testosterone. Steroids and sports go hand in hand in many ways. They were legal until 1990 when they joined other banned substances such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines as being illegal. Many athletes including Arnold Schwarzenegger and football great Lyle Alzado have admitted to using them to help them become better athletes. Because they are illegal without a prescription in almost every country in the world they are only available to the recreational user on the "black market". The black market consists of all steroidal substances, counterfeits, and other illegal drugs that are purchased from a source other than directly from a pharmacy or a physician. As everyone knows, when a product is available only on the black market the demand of it goes up while the supply goes down. This means that a very high percentage of all athletes that use them are doing so illegally. This is a major reason why steroids have become so popular among high school athletes, there so easy to obtain.

Once viewed as a problem only associated with professional athletes, recent reports estimate that 5 to 12 percent of male high school students and 1 percent of female students have used anabolic steroids by the time they were seniors. The athletes using these drugs don't belong to one particular sport, these users play sports ranging from girls tennis all the way to boys swimming all of which have the same goal in common, to gain the upper hand. They are usually used during training to build muscles and contrary to popular belief are not usually used when the athlete is competing. There is widespread use of steroids in the body builder's world due to the ability of steroids to make muscles larger at an increased rate when used with regular weight training.

Before I tell you about the users I want to give you a little background information on this illegal substance. Anabolic/androgenic steroids are synthetic substances related to the male hormone testosterone. These substances have two effects, the androgenic which is causing the body to become more male, even if the user is female and the anabolic, tissue building phase of the use. Most people who use steroids want the tissue building effect and so use steroids with higher anabolic than androgenic properties. Anabolic steroids are banned in most sports, any athlete found using them is usually suspended for long periods and stripped of any titles they may have gained while they were using steroids.

Steroids come in two forms, either injectable or as tablets which are swallowed and which are broken down and transferred directly into the testosterone producing organs. Injectable steroids seem to cause less damage in men but the steroids in pill form may be less dangerous for women, as they do not damage the liver as much as steroids that are swallowed as pills. However, people using injectable steroids run all the risk associated with injecting any drug, that brings me to the effects steroids have on the body.

First let me tell you about the positive effects that steroids possess

for the successing high school athlete. They have a tremendous phsycological affect on the teenage mind. Just by taking these drugs it could transform the most un-athletic and up-popular kid on the team into the most feared and physically greater than anyone on the team. In a recent study by the University of Georgia provided that men ages 17-18 taking steroids for 1 year lost 15% of there body fat and gained 30 pounds in muscle weight, that fact alone is enough convincing that most under-achieving high school athletes need to get on these drugs (Gallaway pg 78). These sound like a wonder drug, but there are many more and far worse negative effects.

The negative effects of these drugs range far and many. For men the effects are much worse. For instance there is increased irritability and aggressiveness also called "roid rages". Then comes the Acne, due to the stimulation of the oil glands in the skin. You can also start developing premature hair loss and a bloated appearance from excess salt and water being retained by the body. The last effect is due to the effect of steroids on the testicles. The brain monitors the amount of testosterone in the body, if it detects a large amount (due to steroids) it will stop the testicles producing more and so less sperm is produced and impotence may occur, which also may result in a decreased sex drive. Apart from the hair loss, the above effects are generally reversible upon stopping steroid use. Adolescent steroid use may lead to a premature fusion of the epiphyses (the end of growing bones) which can lead to stunted growth.(Paterson pg 102)

Long term heavy steroid use may cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. Heart problems



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