Steroids, Could Your Child be Next?

An interesting commentary appeared in one of the health blogs on the Internet this morning.  I think this is worth passing along.

Don

Does your child use steroids? Of course not. That's what concerned parents want to believe. Yet scores of young people are consuming a toxic stew, drugs they believe will enhance physical strength, performance and stamina, and build confidence.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows steroid use among male high school students rose 65 percent from 3.7 to 6.1 percent between 1999 and 2003; among female students it jumped from 2.2 to 5.3 percent, or a whopping 140 percent. Many of these young people have as their unfortunate role models certain high-profile athletes who have been implicated in steroid use. So, parents, be wary. Steroids are stealthy predators.

Watch for warning signs: rapidly bulked-up muscles, preoccupation with "getting big," unusual acne, major mood swings, muscle magazines, pills or powders promising muscle development, and vials and syringes. If you suspect a problem, get between the drugs and your child, impressing upon him or her the fact that what they're doing is illegal and very dangerous. You may be what saves your child from devastating health problems or from death.

What Are They: So-called anabolic-androgenic steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones. "Anabolic" refers to muscle-building, and "androgenic" refers to increased masculine characteristics, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Steroids" refers to the class of drugs, often legally prescribed for people with wasting diseases such as AIDS. But illegal use, which can add body size, is just as likely to destroy or impair the liver, heart and kidneys, emotional stability and normal sexual development of kids.

I know all this because I abused steroids for three and a half years in the mid - 80's - and they almost killed me. They also ruined relationships and hurt my parents, parents who had raised me lovingly. As a user, I learned to lie to my father and steal from my mother's purse. I had no conscience. I had good reasons for steroid use - or so I thought.

Steroids primarily appeal to young people who are looking for an athletic edge or those who want a quick fix to a better body. All want to "supersize" themselves, to create a new and improved version. I had suffered in school due to my short stature and a stutter, both of which attracted bullies and teasing. Steroids looked like the perfect remedy. My heroes, after all, included The Incredible Hulk and a giant of a man named Arnold Schwarzenegger - who eventually admitted to using steroids.

Finally Broken: Eventually steroid use broke me, literally. My body and mind were in shambles. A long, long road back included physical and mental evaluations, addiction support group meetings, and exercise - workouts not meant to "bulk up" but to help my battered body and mind reacquaint themselves.

I am now the father of two boys. My life has been resurrected from the disaster known as steroids. That is why I am here to caution other parents: It doesn't just happen to someone else's kids. When young people look at the hard, muscles bodies presented by smiling, oversized human beings, they see a tempting portrait. Potential users are seduced by this fake picture of health and vitality and virility.

The picture doesn't show the strain on the arteries, the wear and tear on the heart and the psyche. It doesn't show the caskets

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