What You Should Know About Steroids and Young People

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High school steroid use has been on the decline for many years. Still, 45 percent of high school seniors do not see a great risk in using steroids once or twice, according to the Monitoring the Future 2016 Survey. This, coupled with the availability of the drugs online, could signal danger to teens that don’t know or understand the risks.
image of teens taking steroids in the gym

Learn more about steroids and its effects on teens below.

What are Steroids?

Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetically produced versions of testosterone, the male hormone. It can be used to promote the growth of muscles and male physical characteristics.  

Anabolic steroids are prescribed by doctors to aid with specific medical conditions such as anemia or for boys experiencing delayed puberty.

People who are using steroids that were not prescribed to them are breaking the law. 

Online Availability

It’s hard to know what exactly is in the steroids purchased in the online black market. 

Counterfeit steroids imported from China could contain baby oil, Wesson oil, motor oil, Armor All or even horse urine. 

Other products for muscle building, weight loss or pre-workouts (often available in powder, tablet, or liquid form) could contain dangerous amounts of steroids and other stimulants.

Quick Stats: Steroids and Young People

  •  7 percent of high school students admit to using anabolic steroids (Partnership for Drug Free Kids, 7/2014)
  • 21 percent of high school students know a friend who uses steroids  (Partnership for Drug Free Kids, 7/2014)
  • 77 percent of males surveyed said that steroid use in sports “puts pressure on young athletes to use drugs to get ahead.” (Zogby Analytics polls for Digital Citizens Alliance
  • 85 percent of young people have never had a parent, coach or teacher talk with them about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs (Proctor and Gamble Survey)


Why Do Young People Use Steroids?

An “improved” physical appearance and the hope of improved athletic performance are two top reasons that young people may decide to take steroids. In addition, high profile cases of steroid use in professional sports may also have an effect on the relaxed attitude toward the drug.

What Can Happen to Teens Who Abuse Steroids?

Steroid use can cause stunted growth, acne, damage to organs, high blood pressure, fertility problems, mood swings, aggressive behavior and depression. Boys can experience smaller testicles, and development of breast tissue. In teen girls, steroids can cause irregular menstrual cycles, a deeper voice and promote the growth of facial hair.

Learn more about steroids in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drugs of Abuse publication.


Additional Sources 
Mohamadi, Ali. “Teens and Steroids: A Dangerous Combo.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed May 2017. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm373014.htm.

Taylor Hooton Foundation. http://taylorhooton.org/





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