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Health Consequences of Youth Steroid Abuse

Health consequences associated with anabolic steroid abuse include:

  • In boys and men, reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, impotence, difficulty or pain in urinating, baldness, and irreversible breast enlargement (gynecomastia).
  • In girls and women, development of more masculine characteristics, such as decreased body fat and breast size, deepening of the voice, excessive growth of body hair, and loss of scalp hair, as well as clitoral enlargement.
  • In adolescents of both sexes, premature termination of the adolescent growth spurt, so that for the rest of their lives, abusers remain shorter than they would have been without the drugs.
  • In males and females of all ages, potentially fatal liver cysts and liver cancer; blood clotting, cholesterol changes, and hypertension, each of which can promote heart attack and stroke; and acne. Although not all scientists agree, some interpret available evidence to show that anabolic steroid abuse-particularly in high doses-promotes aggression that can manifest itself as fighting, physical and sexual abuse, armed robbery, and property crimes such as burglary and vandalism. Upon stopping anabolic steroids, some abusers experience symptoms of depressed mood, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, headache, muscle and joint pain, and the desire to take more anabolic steroids.
  • In injectors, infections resulting from the use of shared needles or nonsterile equipment, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and infective endocarditis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. Bacterial infections can develop at the injection site, causing pain and abscess.

To encourage youths to avoid anabolic steroid abuse:

  • Present a balanced picture of what these drugs can do for them and to them. Most adolescents know that anabolic steroids build muscles and can increase athletic prowess. Research has shown that failure to acknowledge these potential benefits creates a credibility problem and can actually make youths more likely to try the drugs.
  • Make use of the authority of coaches and the team ethos. In the most promising program currently under study, coaches and team leaders are trained to educate team members about the effects of anabolic steroid abuse, both desirable and adverse, in the general context of training. They also provide information about nutrition and, of course, exercise and other training techniques for improving performance without the steroid abuse by as much as 50 percent and also reduces alcohol abuse among teammates.
  • It is uncertain whether drug testing programs can discourage anabolic steroid abuse. However, the first scientific studies of this practice are currently under way.

If you or a loved one needs help with youth steroid abuse, contact Jeff at (941) 586-0929

This information is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.