David Schussler

In the news again today, and for over two decades now, there has been a lot of exposure of the use of steroids by both amateur and professional athletes. Steroids have mostly been used to enhance their physique and competitive performances. Even with all of the warnings from the medical profession, anabolic steroid use by our youth has increased from 1.1 million young people ages 12-17 in 2002 to nearly double that today. In the decade leading up to 2002, four percent of high school seniors reported using steroids. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that number has grown to currently six percent or more.

The use of drugs in athletics is not new. There are records of drug usage in the Olympics since the turn of the century, but it has in recent years reached overwhelming proportions and diversity. More than twenty of the world’s top athletes were thrown out of the Athens games for doping violations and many more were rejected from the Beijing Olympics.

The muscle bound male is the stereotype of a steroid abuser, however, the use of steroids has not only influenced our male youth. A rising number of young girls also abuse steroids to try to boost athletic performance and enhance physical appearance. A recent U.S. Center for Disease Control report found that seven percent of fifteen year old girls had used steroids. Girls who take steroids are often misinformed or unaware of the associated health dangers. Dr. Richard Auchus, an endocrinologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center stresses that “Steroid abuse by females can lead to growth of facial hair, baldness, menstrual cycle changes, and a deeper voice, all of which are usually permanent changes.” These possible changes are on top of an increased risk of heart attacks, irreversible liver damage, and long-term problems with fertility, stunted growth, and behavioral problems. The health problems caused by steroids may not appear for years after the steroids are taken. Early bone fusing and growth stunting among youthful users is at an all time high.

Drugs commonly referred to as steroids are used by the medical profession to control inflammation and are not the anabolic steroids that build muscle and receive all of the attention but you will find them in our medicine cabinets. It is not unusual at all to find drugs at home for allergies, aches and pains, arthritis, nervous conditions, coughs, colds, overeating, stimulating, depressing, and much more. Is it any wonder then, that our youth are growing up insensitive to regular drug usage and have assimilated this “doping” as a normal way of life?

Many of the athletes getting busted for drug use claim innocence of wrongdoing and understandably so. After watching their moms, dads, teachers, coaches, and heroes chucking down drugs of one sort or another for years, it creates an image of innocence. Most of us never give a second thought to the subliminality of our drug use actions. Worse yet many of these same youth have never even been taught the truth about what these substances do to our bodies, how they affect us, and what are the long and short term repercussions.

The haphazard use of drugs, in general, has reached massive epidemic proportions. Is it really any surprise that Olympians and other outstanding champions (the cream of our athletic youth) could have become so disoriented as to feel that the use of drugs and chemicals in their bodies to enhance their performances is acceptable?

The exposure of the use of steroids is always a blessing for mankind. Unless the snake rears its ugly head you can’t chop it off, but what are we doing about it? The problem is that most of us refuse to admit what is happening with our own casual drug addictions. Plagued by denial and/or guilt we are not properly educating our youth and making them responsible for their actions as we let them irreparably damage their futures.

The only means of achieving patterns of lasting endurance or of having the strength, athletic or otherwise, to face the harsh realities of life, is through natural good health and well being. We need to learn about our bodies and how they function while not relying on chemical substances which tend to unbalance our delicate systems. As parents and mentors we must set the best examples for our youth as they prosper and develop into the doers and leaders of tomorrow. Let them know that the use of anabolic steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs eventually creates losers (as history tells) and they are not the “Breakfast of Champions”.



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