Steroids are man-made substances that mimic natural substances in our body. In other words, they create artificial amounts of testosterone, estrogen, cortisol or progesterone, depending on the type of steroid. Often, doctors will prescribe steroids to treat hormone problems (ie: low amounts of testosterone in men) or to help speed up healing and recovery (ie: after major surgery). However, others abuse them to improve physical and athletic performance which can be extremely dangerous, particularly for developing teens.
Steroids affect the part of the brain known as the limbic system which controls moods. As a result, excessive use of steroids can lead to aggression, anger and extreme mood swings. They can also increase blood pressure, change cholesterol levels, induce liver disease or damage, acne, create sleep problems, increase risk of injury, cause stomach issues such as nausea or vomiting and slow down physical growth.
Dangers for Boys
For boys specifically, excessive steroid use can lead to a lowered natural production of testosterone leading to smaller testicles, decreased sperm count, breast enlargement, enlarged prostate and an increased risk of contracting prostate cancer.
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Dangers for Girls
Particularly for girls, use of steroids can lead to voice deepening, facial hair growth, baldness similar to males, an enlarged clitoris or an altered menstrual cycle.
For both boys and girls, there are withdrawal symptoms also associated with steroid abuse that surface when they are no longer taken. These can include insomnia, mood swings, loss of appetite, restlessness and depression.
It’s extremely important, therefore, to educate yourself and your teen on the risks associated with steroid abuse. The short term, athletic boost is not worth the long-term effects of abusing this drug.
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