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This quote is an inspirational and motivational mantra by which teenage athletes should live–not die. Unfortunately, everyday, teenage athletes across America are playing Russian roulette with their health, as well as their lives. They seem desperate to gain any competitive edge they can, and the frightening reality is that many of them are not even aware that they are putting themselves at risk.
What are these teens doing to themselves? Simple: the same thing many of their professional idols are being accused of doing—taking anabolic steroids. This is a real problem. However, as athletic mentors and physicians we can do something about it.
Like any difficult situation, the solution is not easy or quick. It requires acknowledging and understanding the problem, then speaking out by educating parents, trainers, coaches, and, most importantly, teenage athletes.
What are steroids, what do they do, and why are they dangerous
Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs designed to mimic the hormone testosterone. Some of the most commonly abused steroids are taken orally in pill form. They include Anadrol 50, Oxandrin, Dianabol and Winstrol. Injectable steroids include Deca-Durabolin, Durabolin, Depo-Testosterone and Equipose.
Users get these drugs from a number of sources, including over the Internet from foreign markets. If you think it is only the football players, baseball players, and weightlifters who use steroids, think again: men and teenage boys who believe they are small and weak; female athletes; and women and girls, who think they are too fat and flabby. People use steroids to not only improve the appearance of their bodies, but to boost their self image as well.
Surveys suggest that the greatest increase in anabolic steroid use is among teenage athletes who are motivated by looking, feeling and performing better, regardless of the dangers. A teenage athlete once said to me, “God does not create men equal, so ‘juice’ makes up for his mistakes.” The funny thing is, anabolic steroids do increase muscle strength and size, but they do not improve agility, cardiovascular capacity, or skill level. Ultimately, it is a person’s skill that makes a great athlete, not muscle.