Teens and Performance Enhancing Drugs

Teens and performance enhancing drugs are a combination that unfortunately many high schools throughout the United States are dealing with. Teens and performance enhancing drugs are often found together because of the pressure teens feel to perform their best in school athletics and academics.

Many teens might feel the pressure to perform at their best, or even beyond their best when it comes to high school sports and athletics. Many teens will find ways to get access to certain drugs that are specific for performance enhancing like anabolic steroids, creatine, and steroid precursors. Not all of these types of drugs are necessarily illegal. However, too much of certain over-the-counter supplements can be bad for you as well. For example, creatine is sold over the counter and is often used for athletes and body builders to recover more smoothly and faster after a tough workout. However, some may over do the recommended dosage and wind up with severe side effects like weight gain, nausea, muscle cramps and even kidney damage. Other illegal drugs like some steroids are used inappropriately to help build body muscle and mass and teens use it as a performance enhancing drug. However, these drugs often have really bad side effects like liver and heart damage, decreased or halted bone growth, which is likely to stunt a teen's growth. 

There are other types of performance-enhancing drugs that teens might use to enhance their academic performance like oxycontin and even drugs that are meant to keep you awake for longer periods of time like speed or cocaine and other amphetamines. They may be struggling with school or feel the need to do their best on certain tests like the SATs for college preparedness. Once these pressures get to be too much they might turn to drugs to enhance their academic performance. All of these drugs are harmful and have addictive qualities. This can be tough for teens to quit and will ultimately cause their performances to suffer both athletically and academically. 

Teens and Performance Enhancing Drugs:

Teens may use these performance enhancing drugs because they are looking for a way to cope with insecurities, handle the pressures of athleticism as well as academia. There are several risk factors to watch out for when it comes to teens and performance enhancing drugs:

  • Strong desire to gain muscle mass quickly or strength
  • A negative body image and low-self esteem
  • Trying to keep up with others that are bigger and stronger on the team
  • Pressure from parents, friends, coaches, teammates regarding weight or muscles
  • Pressure from parents, teachers, etc. on their academic/college future
  • Being male - boys are often more likely to use performance enhancing drugs when it comes to sports

Teens and Performance Enhancing Drugs Prevention:

If you have a teen that is involved in sports and has high academic goals, it is important to maintain a constant communication with them about the temptations to use performance enhancing drugs. Remind your teen about the fact that using these kinds of drugs to get ahead is akin to cheating, and is a disqualification if used during a sporting event, or test at school. There are also many health risks to using performance enhancing drugs. Encourage your teen to come to you for help if they are ever feeling behind or unable to keep up with the competition or pressure. Be clear about your expectations and remind them there will be repercussions if they are ever caught using these drugs. Make sure you watch your teen and are involved in their life. This way they will be essentially unable to get away with using performance enhancing drugs. There are a few signs you can look for to make sure they are keeping clean. 

Signs your teen may be using performance enhancing drugs include behavioral issues, emotional or angry outbursts (roid rage), increased acne and facial bloating, enlarged breasts in boys or smaller girls, need marks on their body, changes in body build like rapid weight gain and rapid muscle gain.

If you find that your teen has been using performance enhancing drugs, it is important to get them medical help right away as well as professional mental health care treatment to help them deal with the emotional reasons that led them to using the performance enhancing drugs in the first place. 

Sources: mayoclinic.com, webmd.com

Related Article: Effects of Teenage Drug Use >>