There are many different perspectives, opinions, and views of anabolic steroid use among athletes. Regardless of whether athletes view them as good or bad, anabolic steroids are illegal, and harmful to the body. According to Biology Reference, sixty-one out of every 200 athletes in America use anabolic steroids (Anabolic Steroids). According to doctor Malve, in 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency removed several banned substances from the Prohibited Substance List (Malve). Regardless of the substances that have been removed from the list, several performance enhancing drugs still remain there. Often, there are many steroid-using athletes who are still able to trick the system, and pass the drug test. According to the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, steroids can cause many cardiovascular abnormalities and problems such as; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and aortic stenosis, (Ismail, Tevfik, et al. 1) Research has shown two main methods that help athletes avoid or stop the use of steroids. The first method is to, inform young athletes of both the positive and negative effects of the drugs. The second method is to offer prevention and rehabilitation programs for adults. With this information in mind, a grant is desperately needed from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University to launch an education, prevention, and rehabilitation program for male and female athletes of all ages. These funds will help provide a chance for athletes to learn the harmful effects of these drugs, and give them the tools they need to fight the temptations that steroids pose.
When most people think of steroids, they usually think of drugs that increase an athlete’s muscle mass. The issue with this is, steroids are not a finite object. Steroids can come in many different shapes and forms. There are plenty of herbs, fruits, and other natural organic substances that can increase an athlete’s performance. The main issue today is, what separates steroids from other performance enhancing substances? To give an example, creatine is a non-essential dietary protein, that helps muscles hold more water content. Creatine is not considered a steroid, although it can help an athlete’s physical performance. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines anabolic steroids as A synthetic steroid hormone that resembles testosterone in promoting the growth of muscle. Such hormones are used medicinally to treat some forms of weight loss and, illegally, by some athletes and others to enhance physical performance,(Anabolic Steroid).
Mankind has always been trying to find ways to better themselves. In fact, the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences recalls one of the first ever documents that related to someone using a performance enhancing substance was a painting of the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung from 2737 BC. This painting shows the emperor with leaves of machuang (Ephedra as qtd. in Malve 127). There are even records of athletes using herbal tea, and mushrooms to enhance their performance in the ancient, third century Olympics. Sports Illustrated issue of 1997 showed a report, when 198 aspiring US Olympians were asked, if they would take a prohibited performance enhancing drugs if they were promised to win and not get caught, ninety-eight percent confirmed that they would, (Malve 126). Even though performance enhancing substances are nothing new to humans, there seems to be a growing trend of illegal anabolic steroid use among athletes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than half a million eighth and tenth graders, in the United States, use steroids. (Tolliver). Based on these facts thirty and a half percent of all athletes use anabolic steroids, regardless of the rules prohibiting performance enhancing drugs in sports. Not only is this not fair to all of the natural athletes, who are following the rules. It also puts all of the athletes who are taking steroids at serious health risks. Anabolic steroids are commonly known to cause several heart problems such as; heart attack, strokes, ventricular fibrillation, enlarged heart, hypertension, and much more. Not to mention all of the psychological effects that steroids have on the body. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, psychological problems include; mood swings (including manic-like symptoms leading to violence), impaired judgment, depression, nervousness, extreme irritability delusions, hostility, and aggression (Tolliver).
Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Act of 1990, as an attempt to reduce steroid use among athletes in the United States. In 2001 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey on high school students across the United States, and their study found that approximately nineteen percent of high school students reported a lifetime of illegal steroid use (Tolliver). Steroid use among young high school athletes has been a growing trend over the past twenty years. The school systems even run anti drug use campaigns to try and combat this trend. Research has proven that simply teaching teenagers about the negative effects of steroids is not enough. Most schools and sports programs just simply educate young athletes over various dangers and risks that steroids can cause. The problem with this tactic is, it is only meant to scare athletes into not using these drugs. It offers no alternative for athletes who want to build muscle mass. Weight training, and dieting programs, specifically aiming towards body building could serve as a positive alternative. Research has also found that one key factor that helps prevent steroid use in today’s youth, is when the athlete’s parents and peers disapprove of anabolic steroid use, (National Institute on Drug Abuse). This helps create an environment that discourages performance enhancing drugs, and also rewards an athlete’s success for bodybuilding the natural way. These two factors would not only warn athletes of the effects of steroids, but it would also offer them a healthy alternative option, and it would decrease the overall appeal of these substances.
With all of this information in mind, one may accurately conclude that anabolic steroid misuse has the greatest impact among high school athletes. This particular group of people are extremely important. They are the future of American society. They are in desperate need of help. Most of these athletes are too young to get help by themselves. It’s even harder for them to admit they need help, especially when they are surrounded by people who look down on steroid use. Most schools try to help prevent this issue, by educating students over the adverse effects that steroids can have. This clearly is not doing much to prevent the issue though seeing that anabolic steroid use has been a rising trend since 2007, and schools have been running anti drug use campaigns since 2004 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
One possible solution to prevent steroid use, is a weight training, and dietary program. This will help educate athletes on the effects of steroids, and offers them a strong alternative. The public school system could offer this program to all of it’s athletes. Health teachers, and athletics coaches who work at the school can assist in leading students through this program. A great place where this program can start would be Houston School District, particularly in the inner city area. Steroid use is more abundant in low income areas with high populations. The program could take off in the fall of 2019, at the beginning of the school year. This would help give plenty of time for the coaches and teachers to prepare for this program to launch it’s campaign.
It is imperative that the Caring School Community provides a grant, so that this program, can take flight. The health of America’s future is deteriorating the longer this problem plagues young athletes. The longer this program waits, the more these young athletes will be corrupted by the harmful physical and psychological effects that these substances have. This program will not only just benefit young athletes, but it will also help benefit athletes in professional sports, and it will help american society in general. These young athletes are the future of america, regardless of whether those athletes will move on to be professional or not.
Anabolic Steroids are on the rise, and they bare a heavy burden. Not only do they harm the athletes who abuse them, but they also affect the loved ones and peers of those who have succumbed to these substances. It is only a matter of time until the torch is handed down to the next generation. What kind of generation are you about to pass the mantle onto? We still have a duty to our country as Americans, and we have a duty to our children, to provide the care that they need.
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