Steroid Abuse Among Teens Growing
Men and women are increasingly using illegal steroids in order to build muscle or get toned. New research from the University of Minnesota has found that many teens are abusing steroids at a young age.
In the study, the researchers surveyed more than 2,700 teens all of whom where around 14 years old. Their results show 5.9% of boys and 4.6% of girls are using steroids at some point. Furthermore, 5% to 10% of teens have used creatine or other non-steroid protein products.
This new research shows not only the prevalence or of steroid use among young teens, but also hints at the profound body image problems prevalent in society. The researchers have said they believe these body image issues may stem from the media as well as peers.
The group most likely to use steroids were Asians. According to the researchers, they were 3 to 4 times more likely to have tried steroids in the previous year.
The studies lead author, Marla Eisenberg said, “We've got some young people and in some cases pretty young, young people — we're looking at middle schoolers — who say they are using some of these pretty risky substances in order to increase their muscularity. And that's something we need to be paying attention to."
This is particularly dangerous as these teens brains are still in the process of forming and maturing. Previous studies have shown the use of anabolic steroids could harm brain cells and create a condition called hyperexcitability. This causes the sufferer to become unpredictable, aggressive or over excited.
According to the authors of the study, "Given the adverse health effects of steroids and other muscle-enhancing substances, identifying populations at particular risk and understanding patterns of use hold considerable public health importance."
Parents in particular should be on guard for the signs of steroid use and body image issues. The symptoms of these are easy to spot.
Symptoms of steroid abuse:
Increase in muscle mass
Hair loss or greasy hair
Increase in body hair
Oily skin and stretch marks on joints
Sudden weight increase
Severe mood changes and more aggressive behaviour
Red or purple acne
Symptoms of body image issues:
Obsession with food or exercise
Restriction of diet or certain food groups
Low self esteem
If parents recognize these symptoms early, It can be much easier to treat steroid abuse or body image issues. If these practices are left untreated, they can develop into eating disorders or addictions that may take years to work through.