by:Â Harvey Shapiro
Most recent surveys find that 3%-4% of high school students self-report use anabolic (muscle building) steroids at some time. Given under-reporting flaws, that figure is likely a low-ball estimate. These prescription drugs are easy to obtain on the Internet and are all based on chemical modifications of testosterone, the potent male hormone. And females are included in this tally. When it comes to kids, the acronym for human performance-enhancement (HPE) is often expanded to HPEA, with the A referring to appearance. Remember how many times you looked into the mirror during your adolescent years? Were we tall, slim, and buff enough?
Likely, the percentage of steroid use increases in college and professional sports. There are, at least, three reasons for this. The first is the due to concentration effect of steroid users making college and pro-teams. The second comes from competitive pressures of staying on those teams, and the third is abetted by the cash rewards of being the biggest and fastest. When those attributes are combined with innate skill and timing, an athlete becomes almost unbeatable, and icon for your sports inclined child.
While adults can take steroids for varying periods with a low risk/benefit ratio, the odds are decidedly reversed for adolescents whose hormonal balance during puberty and rapid growth is exquisite balanced. An off-balance hormonal system during this critical time can have lifelong effects.