A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Steroid Abuse Treatment

Teen steroid abuse treatment is used to treat the misuse of anabolic and androgenic steroids, most commonly used by teens to build muscle. Steroid use outside of medical necessity is illegal, and heavily regulated. While steroids are often synonymous with bodybuilding, they are used in all sports from baseball to basketball and are sometimes abused by law enforcement and the military. Anabolic steroids greatly increase the amount of serum testosterone in the body, thus amplifying the natural muscle-building that occurs after (exercise). Its side effects are a result of a sudden surge in serum testosterone in the body.

‘Anabolic’ refers to the drug’s effect on building muscle, while ‘androgenic’ refers to the drug’s effect of creating male like characteristics in users. Steroids used for muscle growth or athletic performance are synthesized (man-made) testosterone. These steroids are used medically to treat certain hormonal conditions, some types of anemia, improve recovery after a major injury/illness, or treat extreme cases of HIV-related weight loss. Introducing abnormal levels of testosterone into the body of a young teen can be disastrous, interrupting puberty and leading to potentially dangerous side effects. In addition to testosterone, human growth hormones (hGH) are also abused for muscle-building, with similar dangers.

Because they are illegal and because the demand for steroids is so high, many steroids sold online are very low in quality. Avid users of steroids or professionals who make use of steroids illegally to gain an edge over the competition may typically either tap veterinary sources or have contacts illicitly distributing pharmaceutical-grade steroids used typically for medical research or treatment. Most teens resort to getting their steroids from unverified sources, further multiplying the health risks associated with steroid use.

What Does Teen Steroid Abuse Look Like?

  • In teens, all forms of steroid use are steroid abuse, except the use of steroids prescribed and administered by a medical professional. This is because casually introducing steroids into the body of a growing teen can lead to severe long-term consequences. While illegal, it’s important to recognize that steroid use is rampant among athletes as well as fitness fanatics. Teens who are passionate about training or their sport will eventually come into contact with the idea of using steroids. Being vigilant about a teen’s interest in steroids is critical.
  • Low-quality steroid use can lead to abscesses, acne, irreversible skin conditions, and gangrene. Misuse or ill-informed use of steroids, as well as overuse of steroids can lead to severe organ damage, liver disease, tumors, the development of testicular cancer, and other conditions. Because steroid use is illegal, your teen is also risking legal prosecution.
  • Other side effects of long-term use include baldness, infertility, development of breasts, and shrinking of testicles.  In female teens, steroids can lead to male-pattern baldness, growth of facial hair, changes in menstrual cycle, enlargement of female parts, and permanently deepened voice.
  • Muscle and weight gain are to be expected in teens, especially in boys. A young man eating at a caloric surplus and regularly exercising can easily gain plenty of lean mass in a year, with diminishing returns year after year. Genes, training programs, quality of sleep and countless other factors influence how a teen grows. However, a massive jump in muscle size and definition in a short timeframe, together with a jump in weight and other suspicious behavior may indicate steroid use.

Signs of Teen Steroid Abuse

teen steroid abuse treatment

Rapid muscle gain

teen steroid abuse treatment

Acne

teen steroid abuse treatment

Accelerated puberty

teen steroid abuse treatment

Injection marks (buttocks, thighs, shoulder)

teen steroid abuse treatment

Sudden changes/cessation of menstruation (in girls)

Different Types of Steroids

Testosterone (Androderm)

Adrostenedione

Stanozolol (Winstrol)

Nandorlone (Deca-Durabolin)

Methandrosteolone (Dianabol)

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

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What Causes Teen Steroid Abuse?

Self-esteem and body image issues – while steroids are commonly used among athletes, both the professional kind and the aspiring kind, most teens using steroids today are doing so out of a desire for an aesthetically-pleasing body, whether to lose weight (in women) or gain muscle (in men). Some teens either buy into the belief that steroids are harmless and promote easy muscle gain, or they genuinely feel that the benefits outweigh the risks.

In many cases, teenage boys feel uncomfortable in their bodies, and even go so far as to hate themselves for their outward appearance. They don’t see value in themselves without a bigger outside packaging and believe that gaining a lot of size and definition is the only way they can be happy with themselves. Some suffer from a mental disorder known as muscle dysphoria, where a person does not see themselves as others see them, thinking themselves ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ despite looking healthy and strong.

Athletic aspirations – despite the risks, there is no denying that a well-designed steroid cycle can drastically improve an athlete’s performance and output. However, it can also cut their careers short, and puts them at risk for legal prosecution and a host of physical side effects. No athlete should ever need steroids to improve themselves, but many feel the urge to use steroids to get ahead of the competition and score their way to victory and fame. Some teens watch professional weightlifters and bodybuilders and feel that they have no choice but to use if they aspire to be like them some day.

Peer pressure – some coaches and teams promote the use of steroids to win, while other teens feel pressured by larger, stronger friends to use steroids to get on their level and feel just as strong.

75%

of steroid users are teens

2.3%

of 12th graders abuse steroids

1/20

teens use steroids to increase muscle growth

How Can I Help My Teen with Steroid Abuse?

Make sure they understand the risks – even pharmaceutical-grade steroids can wreak havoc on a teen’s system. The evidence on using steroids and HGH to prevent the negative effects of aging is conflicting, with little data to back up the idea that steroids are useful at any point in a healthy, normal individual’s life. But for teens, the evidence is clear – steroid use is risky and can cause a host of issues later on in life, from aesthetic issues like baldness and gynecomastia (breast growth), to liver failure and heart disease. Help educate them on the various ways synthetic testosterone use interferes with the body’s natural hormonal balance, including a severely depressed libido and sexual dysfunction.

Encourage them to seek help for body image issues – if a teen struggles to see themselves as anything other than disgusting or appalling, they’re likely suffering from severe body image issues. Refusal to go shirtless or look at the mirror may mean that they can’t see themselves without feeling bad. Rather than encouraging them simply to exercise or ‘do something about it’, consider taking them to a mental health professional. It’s normal to be critical of your own appearance, but most healthy individuals come to terms with their imperfections. A severe problem with body image might be a symptom of an anxiety disorder or a body image disorder.

Encourage a healthy relationship with sports and exercise – if your teen is passionate about sports and exercise, teach them to regard steroids as superfluous and unnecessary for true performance and healthy living. Not all exercise is healthy, and many teens with a passion for a sport or for fitness in general are not pursuing it simply for the health benefits. Approaching a teen about quitting steroid use can lead to heated arguments, especially if they are convinced that they can never have a future in a sport without using illegal supplementation. But if you can help them find a way to see fitness as a personal challenge to be the best you can be without the use of pharmaceutical help, then you can encourage your teen to continue training without steroids.

What Types of Treatment Are Available for Teen Steroid Abuse?

Anabolic steroids are not traditionally addictive in the sense that they do not abuse the same pathways in the brain that drugs like alcohol, cigarettes, heroin and cocaine abuse. Instead, however, anabolic steroids do lead to several significant changes in the body and the brain as a result of an increased level of testosterone. When you’re on ‘gear’ or on a ‘cycle’, you will be going through physiological as well as psychological changes. Going off steroids, then, will often bring withdrawal problems, including depressive symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and headaches as the body adjusts. After withdrawal, the urge to use might still be there simply because you will feel weaker and flatter without the gear. Here are ways treatment facilities help teens quit steroid abuse.

Staying Clean

The first goal of treatment is to keep a teen away from steroids. It starts with removing all steroids and steroid paraphernalia, and then continues to cut off potential contacts related to their steroid use. The only way forward is for the teen to decide wholeheartedly that they’re no longer going to use steroids; that they don’t need them and can live without them.

However, being convinced of that might take some time. If your teen began using steroids as a way to deal with self esteem issue, then it is likely that these issues have only worsened in the meantime or have been compounded with other psychological symptoms aggravated by the heavy use of steroids. That is why the next step is:

Talk Therapy

A slew of issues often leads a teen to seriously consider and eventually opt to begin using steroids. Whether out of peer pressure or an internal pressure to excel athletically, or undergo a drastic transformation, any of the factors that play a role in the development of a steroid abuse issue hint at deeper problems in a teen’s life. A therapist will work with a teen patient to identify why they felt they needed to use steroids in the first place and help them resolve the root issues that led them to start using.

Inpatient Treatment

A residential treatment facility can, in many cases, help teens realign themselves after a tumultuous time spent working with steroids and trying to resolve deep-seated issues by unwittingly feeding them. Not all teens who use steroids need inpatient treatment to figure out that they’re better off not using, but some teens are emotionally tied to the juice and need a timeout to help them find the right path forward. Residential treatment or inpatient treatment can give a teen that timeout.

Teen Steroid Abuse Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

Teen steroid abuse treatment is important in cases of repeated use, and potential emotional dependency. In some cases, steroids can be addictive because it simply feels very different to train and live without them after going through an intense cycle of using. Because steroids heavily impact a person’s hormones, withdrawal symptoms are not uncommon. These include severe feelings of depression, sometimes even leading to risk of suicide. Beyond this, teens might also experience insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, and loss of appetite.

At Paradigm Malibu, it’s important for teens to have professional oversight and support to ensure their mental and physical health.

Addressing Other Issues

Once teens are stabilized, treatment at Paradigm Malibu can proceed to include helping the teens address the underlying causes that led them to use steroids in the first place. These causes can include pressure from peers, feelings of insecurity and/or anxiety, and more. By supporting teens to evaluate what led to their continued use, they can find a way to live without the steroids, and without feeling miserable.

Time Spent Reflecting

Furthermore, teens can learn about themselves, which stressors and conflicts are present in their lives, how they respond to stress, and what resources they might access to better deal with stress in the future.

Therefore, the treatment process, by addressing these underlying issues, supports teens to correct similar behaviors in the future, even when faced with similarly stressful situations. In this sense, teen steroid abuse treatment at Paradigm Malibu not only helps teens get sober, but also prepares them to remain sober in the future, helping them make positive decisions moving forward.

“ It's the one program that allowed my child to continue his school work. The parent weekend involvement/training changed all of our lives. The place is beautiful, the staff highly qualified and always available to help. It's been almost a year since my child left and he still calls occasionally for guidance. I could not ask for more. “

– Clarke D.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Steroid Abuse

How do I know if my teen is using steroids if they deny it?

Some teens simply develop very quickly, and it’s easy to pack on several pounds of muscle in puberty. Seeing your child grow strong and large doesn’t have to set off any red flags, but if they’re acting suspicious, are often hiding bags, and are in possession of hypodermic needles and glass vials, then confront them about potential steroid use. Steroid use can be tested by a medical professional, if need be – but the threat of getting them tested might be enough to elicit a confession. If you do end up getting tested and your fears go unrealized, then you’ll likely owe your teen an apology – but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Are steroids always dangerous?

Steroids are used to help patients build muscle mass and fight off the effects of various diseases and illnesses. However, even then, they don’t come without their fair share of risks. Steroids will always have a volatile effect on any human being because of how crucial our hormone balance is for the development and management of the human body.

Teens are especially affected by the use of steroids because they are still developing. While steroids can save the lives of sick people, using steroids when you are otherwise healthy is simply irresponsible, even when using pharmaceutical-grade products. However, many teens don’t have the contacts or the resources necessary to obtain clean testosterone, and end up buying cheaper, often low-quality products, drastically increasing the danger of developing serious, lifelong adverse effects.

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