Another Drug to Worry About

It is a disheartening but true fact that today, the use of steroids has increased dramatically, and that too, in children and in adolescents, who have absolutely no business taking these and other such drugs, for whatever reason. According to experts on the issue, even high school students have joined the group of steroid users, and Tracy Olrich, a sports psychologist at the Central Michigan University, said that as discussions about the usage of steroids increased, so would the awareness of such drugs, and this in turn would induce more young people to try them out for themselves.

According to the statistics given out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, steroid usage among high school children had shown a sharp increase during the period from 1991 to 2003; in fact, the figures had almost doubled. About six percent of the almost 15,000 students from grades nine to twelve who were questioned, responded to the CDC’s 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and they agreed that they had taken steroid pills or shots at least once.

Charles Yesalis, a Professor of Health and development at the Penn State University, had this to say, “I think we’ve had a million kids who’ve cycled on these drugs”, cycling referring to the event of using a particular drug for a period of six to twelve weeks, or even longer. Yesalis also said that when the former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his medals when it was discovered that he had used performance enhancing drugs, it astonished experts by having just the opposite effect.

More adolescents were induced to try out his so called ‘wonder drug’, which perhaps some of them may not have even heard of, so that their performance in whatever field would be enhanced. However, Rep Christopher Shays had this to say, “That’s pretty naive. That’s like saying my children, when they grew up, didn’t know about sex. The kids know about this stuff, and the problem is: What are we going to do about it? ” (Reed 2005)

As a matter of fact, more and more young people today seem to associate ‘doing well in sports’, ‘making more money’, and ‘becoming more successful’ with steroids, and this is an alarming trend indeed. To add to the already burgeoning problem, the tests for finding out whether an individual has used steroids or performance increasing drugs of any kind may be highly expensive, and this could mean that most people do not even acknowledge the problem, and instead, prefer to turn a blind eye to the problem. This means that more and more kids could be trying steroids, completely unchecked and undetected.

This could in turn mean that such uncontrolled and unmonitored usage of steroids would have devastating health effects on children, leading the country, and the entire world into a sort of global crisis, unless some sort of action is taken against such usage of steroids. (Reed, J 2005) Of course, say experts, perhaps the problem starts at home. Parental pressure on the child to ‘win’ and to give his best performance may incite the child to try out these ‘wonderful inventions’ in the form of steroids, so that they could achieve their goals, as well as please their parents and fulfill their parents’ ambitions.

Dr. Jordan D. Metzl, a nationally renowned sports medicine physician for the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, had this to say, “It’s actually potentially a very significant problem when parents put more pressure on kids and that pressure increases. That can cause sometimes very serious issues. ” (Fernandez, B 2008) A survey by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that the total annual steroid usage in children in school was 1. 8 percent for 12th graders and 1. 2 percent for 10th graders.

In a comparison between steroid usage in boys and girls, it was found that girls did not show too much interest in trying steroids to augment their performance in sports, while 2. 7 percent of boys as young as those in the twelfth grade, who could be as young as a mere fourteen years old, used steroids. Research has even shown that in some cases, fathers who wish that their sons perform better in sports actually purchase these drugs for them, while being fully aware of the fact that this may be completely illegal. Metzl goes on to say, “I get a call or a comment about this usually about once a month.

I get a family or a doctor or sometimes even a kid approaching me on the issue of performance enhancing drugs. Sometimes that includes steroids. ” (Fernandez 2008) This shows that the need of the hour is to find out exactly why these kids take steroids, and what has forced them into trying them, and whether they are continuing using steroids to improve their performance in sports and other similar activities. (Fernandez, B 2008) It is important to remember that illegal and uncontrolled and unmonitored usage of steroids for whatever purpose may have serious negative consequences on the health and well being of the child.

First and foremost, the child or adolescent must note that the effect of these steroids is temporary, but the long term impact may be quite severe. Take for example an anabolic steroid. This is basically testosterone, the male hormone, and when the adolescent consumes testosterone, he feels that he has become powerful and strong, and he will be able to train for longer periods of time, and also perform better. He may feel that the steroid would help him perform better continuously, and this is where he goes wrong.

Unless and until he takes the steroid again, and yet again, he will not gain the so called ‘benefits’ of the drug. This means that he has already entered a vicious cycle of dependency on the drug to perform better, and this could be an extremely dangerous trend indeed, both for the male and the female. Take for example the male who has taken steroids to enhance his capabilities. His sperm cells may start to die off gradually over a period of time, and this would mean that he has become sterile and will not be able to have his own children in the future.

In women too, the same problem may occur; the woman may find that she is unable to conceive a child. The presence of the strange male hormone testosterone within her body may cause her to develop facial hair, and also cause variations in her growth patter. Her sex life too may be affected. In severe cases, like for example in the case of Eddie Guerrero, the professional wrestler who took inadvertent amounts of steroids to enhance his wrestling capabilities, the blood cells shrink, thereby leading the heart to pump harder and faster than is normal, leading to the development of heart disease and other cardiac problems.

Eddie Guerrero passed away in 2005 from heart failure, caused by his usage of steroids. The British wrestler Bull Dog Davey Boy too died of heart failure related to his usage of steroids. Says Wilkins, J Wayne, “These are just two of the many professional wrestlers worldwide who have suffered the negative effects of steroids, and I am ashamed to say, they are not the first, and they will not be the last. ” (Wilkins 2008) Apart from this problem, the usage of steroids could have other serious and severe long term consequences as well.

One such is the typical ‘rage’ associated with steroid usage. Known as the ‘Roid Rage’, this is a typical symptom of inadvertent steroid usage; the user may find that he has become susceptible to uncontrollable rage and anger, and although the rage in itself may last for just a few moments, he may become a danger to those around him at this time. (Wilkins, J W 2008) Although the use and abuse of steroids was once viewed as a problem associated with adult sportspersons, today this is no longer the case.

Today, even school age children have started using these dangerous drugs, and these children remain completely and blissfully unaware of the dangers that are associated with the usage and the abuse of such drugs. According to the NIDA, or the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than a half million school age children, belonging to the eighth to the tenth grades take and abuse steroids, without being aware of the dangers associated with it. Take these statistics released by the NIDA on the physical and the psychological effects of steroid usage on children and adolescents.

For boys, the results can include baldness, sensitivity in the testicles, shrinking of the testicles, and perhaps even the loss of function in them. The boy could also start to suffer from severely painful erections, and he may also grow breasts. For girls too, the consequences are as painful and serious as that for boys. The girl may grow facial hair, including a beard and a moustache, and she may start to develop a deeper voice than usual for a girl.

She may also start to suffer from menstrual irregularities, and find that her breasts have become smaller in size. She may also suffer from a painful enlargement of her clitoris. Apart from these specific symptoms, both girls and boys may suffer from other symptoms related to illegal usage of steroids. Both may suffer from severe acne, and jaundice, also resulting in a yellowing of the skin. Fluid retention may become a distinct possibility, resulting in swelling.

The growth plates in the long bones of the body may become permanently sealed off, resulting in a stunting of growth, at the time when they need to grow. Aggression, mood swings, and uncontrollable anger and rages may become a part of their daily lives, and to add to the misery, cholesterol levels become unpredictable, with a decrease in good cholesterol and an increase in the bad, thus leading to more severe health complications.

Experts state that these are some of the steroids that adolescents and children take, as these are commercially available in the U. S. nclude fluxoymesterone or Halotestin, methyltestosterone, nandrolone or Deca-Durabolin, or Durabolin , oxandrolone or Oxandrin, oxymetholone or Anadrol, testosterone, and stanozolol or Winstrol. Some children do not hesitate to take veterinary steroids that are commercially available in the U. S. These include boldenone or Equipoise, mibolerone, and trenbolone or Revalor. Other steroids found on the illicit market but which have not been approved for use in the United states of America include ethylestrenol, methandriol, methenolone, and methandrostenolone.

Steroid abuse by school age children (n. d) It is a sad fact that children and young people, as well as adults who take steroids become addicted to the drugs, and they are forced to continue to take the drugs, even after they have become aware of the short term, long term, physical as well as the psychological consequences and effects of the usage and abuse of the drugs. It is a medical fact that steroid users often suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they do not take the drug, and the symptoms may continue even after the child has stopped taking the drug for a period of one year and more.

As experts and researchers state, it is vital that children be educated on the ill effects of steroid usage, and one of the ideas that were developed to fight this growing menace was that children be taught to look out for signs of steroid abuse, most importantly, short term physical symptoms in their friends and peers. Some of these symptoms are as follows: the user would exhibit unusually greasy hair and oily skin, at times with stretch marks on their inner joints. Their faces, necks and backs would most probably show signs of severe acne, including red and purple acne on their face.

Skin eruptions, lesions, and infected abscesses and cysts would become pronounced. Boys would display an exaggerated growth of breasts, in what is known as ‘gynomastia’, in addition to thinning hair, in the typically male pattern baldness. Both girls and boys would have severe bad breath, while girls would show thickened hair growth on parts of their body that normally would not grow hair. The onset of liver damage would be obvious in a yellowing of their skin, which is one of the primary symptoms of jaundice.

A change in appetite, at times great hunger, and at other times, a complete disinterest in food would be another short term symptom of steroid usage and abuse, in addition to changes in sleep patterns. The child would either sleep too much, or sleep too little, and either put on weight rapidly, or lose weight rapidly. He or she may also exhibit nausea, dizziness, trembling and vomiting, and become either too hyperactive, or too lethargic. In both boys and girls, the development of strong muscles would be obvious, but at what cost, state experts. The child may become moody, aggressive, and unable to make or face decision making.

He or she may become paranoid, and suspicious, and become secretive and spend hours behind a closed door, start lying, and withdraw from his immediate family and friends. The child may, in short, become affected for life if he used and abused steroids for whatever reason, and unless this menace is controlled immediately, the health of the future generations may be adversely affected. An adolescent steroid user can be spotted, and treatment given, so that he or she may be able to recover at the earliest from the dangers associated with such usage. How to spot a steroid user 2004)

One can analyze the various forms of treatment available for treating child abusers of steroids. One must remember that children and adolescents require individualized treatment that would take these several aspects into consideration: the manifestations of the disease that has been brought on by constant abuse of steroids, including the location of inflammation, if any, in the intestines or elsewhere, the duration of the abuse, and the child’s prior response to therapy, if any.

The child’s age, his physical size and his psychological status must also be taken into consideration when deciding upon the treatment for the steroid user. This is so that the dosages of the treatment drugs can be tailored to specifically suit the child under question. For physical ailments and manifestations of steroid usage such as itching and inflammation, corticosteroids are advised. Antibiotics may also be given to treat a child with steroid induced conditions, particularly distal or left-sided colitis or perianal disease.

At times, immunomodulators are given to children to control inflammations if any. Biologic drugs are also given to deal with the problems brought on by Crohn’s Disease, a direct effect of steroid usage among children, in addition to the new nutrition therapy, as it is assumed that the first step towards the treatment of any disease is adequate nutrition, and in the case of children, this can become particularly relevant, because the child has not yet grown fully. CCFA 2008) There can be no doubt at all that steroids are turning out to be as dangerous as any drugs that can be bought off the streets today and our children are becoming increasingly susceptible to trying out these dangerous chemicals in order to perform better. It is of vital importance that one sit don, take stock of the situation, and think of the ways and means with which to effectively tackle this menace to the future generations of America, and to the world.

The New Jersey Acting Governor Richard Codey had this to say, “We’ve all seen the statistics and read the articles about the impact that steroids are having on kids. This is a growing public health threat, one we can’t leave up to individual parents, coaches or schools. Kids don’t think 10 years down the road, when that steroid use can lead to a heart attack, liver cancer, diabetes”. Jeff 2005) The Acting Governor was in fact announcing a new scheme, the first-of-its-kind measure in the country, which involved making high school athletes in New Jersey submit themselves voluntarily for random testing for steroid usage, any time during the school year. Apparently, a majority of high school coaches in the state approved whole heartedly to such a plan, and perhaps this would help curtail this dangerous trend among the young people of the country, they feel.

The coaches also state that it was because of the bad example being set by famed athletes and other sports professionals, who publicly announce the fact that they have taken steroids to improve their performances cats a bad influence on these young impressionable minds. The general opinion among children is, “If he can do it, why not me? ” Perhaps they even get the message that he or she cannot be a winner unless and until you take performance enhancing drugs, which the adult professionals do anyway, feel the coaches.

It is therefore imperative that one stresses the importance of playing a sport or of competing in an event, just for the sheer joy of it, rather than just for winning the event. Jeff Mackay goes on to say, “Extreme physical fitness problems, overweight issues is one extreme affecting our young people. The other is the blatant use of steroids. These days, it’s all about winning… not about the enjoyment of the sport. Sportsmanship has taken a backseat. It would be great if one wins, but it won’t happen all the time” (Jeff, M (2005)