Anabolic steroid use
in adolescents and high schools
Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are extremely powerful drugs. “Anabolic” means to grow and “androgenic,” pertains to the development of male characteristics. AAS are a synthetic version of the body’s naturally occurring hormone testosterone, the same chemical responsible for male sexual traits and the fundamental component in muscle development. AAS are used medically to boost testosterone in males whose natural production is insufficient, to block or eliminate estrogen production in females with breast or reproductive cancers, to aid in anemia, and to preserve lean body tissue in patients with immune system and muscle wasting diseases. Although AAS usage has the potential for negative side effects, they are often outweighed by the benefits patients receive when administered under a physician’s care.
Though most commonly seen in bodybuilding, AAS are also prevalent in non-bodybuilder circles when there is dissatisfaction with one’s physique, a desire to shed unwanted fat, or the need to gain additional muscle mass. Jack is a member of a local health club and former football player at Virginia Tech who exclaims, “I wanted the body of a 25-year old pro athlete at eighteen years old. What I didn’t understand was that at 18, I was still growing.” A consistent steroid user throughout his high school and college careers, Jack was like many teenagers who seek chemical assistance in fulfilling social and athletic goals. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey by The University of Michigan, in 2006, 2.7% of high school seniors reported they had tried steroids at least once in their lifetime. The majority of those who fall victim to teenage steroid abuse are male athletes seeking to better their performance in sports, be more competitive in the pursuit of athletic scholarships, or to gain recognition outside of the arena. Females as well as males have shockingly admitted trying steroids as early as age 11, and are said to most commonly do so for aesthetic purposes.