One of the first things adults should do is realize there is a real possibility your child/student could be using steroids or other appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs). Denial and wishful thinking can quickly lead you down the path to destruction.
PREVENTION: How Do You Keep Your Child From Using?
- Be clear about your expectations as a parent. Tell your teen that you expect him or her to avoid them. Remind them that the use of anabolic steroids, without a legitimate prescription from a medical doctor, is illegal.
- Discuss ethics and proper training. Remind your son or daughter that using APEDs is cheating, but even more importantly, could lead to serious health problems or even death. Reassure your child that they can achieve their objectives the right way, with proper diet, exercise, and hard work.
- Explain the health risks of steroid use. Teach your teen that short-term gains can lead to long-term problems.
- Identify the signs of steroid abuse. Learn what kind of symptoms can indicate that your child may be abusing steroids. Go to our Signs of Steroid Abuse page for more details.
- Talk about healthy fitness alternatives. Educate your teen on how the importance of a balanced diet and rigorous training are the true keys to athletic performance.
- Inspire your teen to be his/her best. Encourage kids to feel good about their sports performances.
- Urge coaches to implement a Zero Tolerance policy. Help ensure kids are receiving positive reinforcement by getting the coaches and/or athletic director on board with anti-doping talks and education on why steroids will not be tolerated. Then ask your child whether their leaders talk about this subject with them.
- Reassure your teen. Show your love and support – even when your child doesn’t perform well in competitive sports – to help instill confidence and a positive outlook.
- Set rules. For example, if your son or daughter uses APEDs, he or she has to quit the team.
- Talk with your child’s coach. Let the coach know you’ve talked with your teen and that you don’t approve of APEDs.
- Monitor your teen’s purchases. Take a close look at the over-the-counter supplements that your teenager takes. Visit the NSFSport web site and select only supplements that have been tested for safety by NSF. Closely check the ingredients and be aware that supplements are not regulated the way drugs would be. Talk about this with your child.
REACTION: Your Child May Be Using. Now What?
- Be the adult. It is no longer about how much you are a friend to your child or how popular you are. Your child is making uninformed decisions that are putting his or her life at risk.
- Get to the truth. Understand that your trust and communication with your child could be potentially damaged in the process, but it may just be what saves his or her life.
- Obtain a urine sample. Take your child to the doctor if you can’t get it yourself. Be sure to tell the doctor that YOU WANT THE SAMPLE TESTED FOR ANABOLIC STEROIDS – steroid testing is not part of a standard drug panel.
- Talk to your physician. Many are not familiar with the subject, so you may need to educate them. Share your knowledge of the dangers and effects of anabolic steroids. Go to our Dangers of Anabolic Steroids page for more details.
- Ask your doctor to talk about case studies involving steroids and teens. It’s important for your child to hear how badly the drugs could damage their body. Sometimes the expert voice of a physician helps drive home the dangers.
- Seek professional advice on healthy alternatives. Obtain the opinion of a sports medicine physician or other professional authority and provide your child with facts about proper nutrition and strength training.
- Never give up. The need to overcome perceived shortcomings is very powerful. At first, your child may not hear a word of what you are saying, but keep trying to communicate openly with them. You are as much of an influence on his or her life as any muscle magazine, TV show, or gym trainer.