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Steroid Use among America's Youth
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Steroid Use among America's Youth

Although it is typically high school students who are encouraged to participate in organized sports, children of all ages do participate. Participating in organized team sports is a great way to achieve physical benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and a sense of well being. Organized sports are also a great way to develop camaraderie and character building.

In addition to the positive lessons of teamwork, work ethic, and social skills, the heightened sense of competition which sports develops can be a negative strain on a child's life. The obsession with winning, emulating their heroes in professional sports, or reaching the professional level can lead to steroid use. While the encouragement of children to strive to be the best is a positive guideline, some can turn it into a negative by experimenting with substances that can harm their bodies and their minds.

It is perhaps because of these extremely high standards that dangerous practices begin to take hold of young athletes. Also, it may be due to increases in news coverage of professional athletes using steroids. These are athletes who are idolized by kids. They are athletes who used steroids and achieved great success within their respective sports, albeit at a price. It is the responsibility of parents and coaches to make sure that all children, especially teenagers, are training in a safe and healthy way without the use of steroids.

Steroids are drugs that can help athletes achieve certain physical goals such as increased muscle mass, strength, and endurance. However, these drugs are extremely dangerous and illegal when used in competitive sports ranging from the professional level to even high school competitions.

Drug use, however, even the use of steroids, is sometimes glorified in movies and the media. Children may see an athlete set a record only to be accused years later of using steroids. America's youth can interpret this as an easy way to achieve success.
The American media tends to report only on steroid use among professional athletes mainly in baseball, football, and basketball. What is missing, many times, in these reports is the rampant use of steroids among the nation's youth. The use of steroids within the United States is increasing in dangerous numbers and should be a focus of the media in order to bring attention to parents, coaches, and teenagers.

As recently as 2003, it was found by the Youth Risk and Behavior Surveillance System that 5.3% of females and 6.8% of males have used anabolic steroids at least one time. These statistics are more than double of a study conducted almost a decade prior.
Steroid use, as well as other drugs, is an ongoing problem among America's youth. Steroid use not only can become addictive, but can also have long-term health risks associated with it. First and foremost, extended steroid use can lead to kidney failure, high blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances. Additionally, steroids can lead to increases in harmful cholesterol and risk of heart disease and even strokes, which can ultimately lead to death.

Any teenager using steroids is at risk of altering his or her growth patterns and development as well. Steroids in the system can lead to premature closure of growth plates thus preventing the teenager from achieving his or her full grown form. Even more upsetting is the cessation of menstruation in girls combined with the deepening of the voice, baldness, and growth of facial hair. Steroids are particularly dangerous for young adolescents and young adults because their bodies are going through natural changes which can be severely altered or hindered by the use of these drugs.

In addition to these physical effects, steroid use can also affect a teenager's mental well-being. Use of steroids, as we know, can alter the amounts of growth hormone in the body as well as other hormones and neurotransmitters. This can lead to wild mood swings which can materialize into depression and even suicidal thoughts. It has been reported that teenagers who had stopped using steroids had fallen into depression (which is a common feeling among teens but can be exemplified by drug use), and taken their own lives.

Many parents and coaches today agree that something must be done to deter today's youth from using steroids. The best way to do this is through education, so many schools and sports programs today are incorporating drug education into their curriculums. However, much more is needed to encourage steroid avoidance. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, only 45% of high school seniors believe that using steroids can be physically harmful. The media can also do its part to help America's youth as well. More coverage on the risks associated with the use of steroids would go a long way, especially among today's impressionable teens.

About the Author: Grant Eckert is a freelance writer who writes about sports and leisure activities, similar to what consumers read in Baseball Digest | Baseball Digest Magazine by CSGrant Eckert

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