Steroids are sometimes called “roids” or “juice”. They are actually hormones that are produced naturally in the body. They are produced in order to fight stress as well as promote growth and development. However, there are many teens and adults who take steroids as a supplement because they can improve athletic performance and appearance.
In fact, for an adolescent male, the attraction to use and even abuse steroids might be strong. Steroids can be taken in the form of pills, gels, creams, and injections. Recently, one teenager noticed that after going to the gym and developing firm muscles in his upper body that he became more attractive to his female classmates. This was enough to get him hooked on steroids. He continued to notice that his female peers were spending more time with him at parties, and he even attracted the attention of one girl that he liked. This can be a strong affirmation that using steroids is worthwhile. For these and similar reasons, steroids that enhance the muscular physique of a teenager and therefore bring attention and romantic involvement can have an addictive quality to them. You might be able to see that if you’re gaining more attention because of your looks and steroids in contributing to your physical appearance, then there’s a good chance that you might want to continue taking them.
However, there are dangers to taking and abusing steroids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, five to twelve percent of male high school students and one percent of female high school students have used the drug before their senior year.
Steroids are sometimes described as anabolic, meaning muscle building, or androgenic, meaning increased male sexual characteristics. The full name for this drug is anabolic-androgenic steroids, sometimes abbreviated as AAS. Steroids are drugs that mimic the male sex hormone testosterone, such as promoting the growth of cells, particularly in the muscles, and enhancing certain masculine characteristics.
At times, steroids are legally prescribed in order to treat conditions such as delayed puberty or when certain diseases lead to lean muscle mass, such as cancer or AIDS. However, athletes, bodybuilders, and others who want to develop their physical appearance can easily abuse the drug.
Steroids can either be taken orally or injected directly into muscles. Others can be applied to the skin as a cream or gel. When abusing the drug, teens might take doses that are 10 to 100 times greater than medically prescribed doses. When taking the drug, the effects can be severe, particularly on the developing bodies of adolescents. Adverse effects of steroid use include fertility problems, impotence, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart and liver abnormalities. Male teens might experience their testes shrink and growth in breast tissue, while female adolescents might experience irregular menstrual cycles and the growth of facial and body hair. Both genders could experience acne, mood swings, and aggression.
Unlike other drugs, which stimulate the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, bringing the euphoria of a high, steroids do not trigger the same release that might drive an addiction. However, in general, teen steroid use will promote feeling good and have a long-term effect of certain brain pathways thereby influencing the how other drugs affect the brain, causing significant mood and behavior disturbances. The overall promotion of feeling well can still lead to an addiction, and when the drug is no longer being used, withdrawal symptoms are present. These symptoms can include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and continued cravings.
It is important to note that depression is also one of the dangerous effects of discontinued use of steroids. This can be hazardous during adolescence where psychological change is underway and when a teen is already facing challenges socially, emotionally, academically, and psychologically. Furthermore, teen steroid abuse and withdrawal can also lead to suicide attempts, if depression is not recognized and treated.
Because of the dangers of depression and suicide attempts, teen treatment for discontinuing a steroid addiction would be comprehensive and multi-faceted. Treatment might include individual and group therapy, medical care, anger management classes, family counseling, and continued care to ensure a long-term, lasting recovery. Likely, this would involve that an adolescent attend a rehabilitation center so that he or she could focus on treatment and recovery.
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