Addressing Abuse of Performance-Enhancing Drugs by Teens

Regular substances of abuse are not the only major cause of concern for parents and guardians. Another addition to the list is performance-enhancing supplements. According to a 2016 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the trend of misuse of performance-enhancing supplements by teens, who are not athletes, to enhance their appearances, is fast becoming […]



Regular substances of abuse are not the only major cause of concern for parents and guardians. Another addition to the list is performance-enhancing supplements. According to a 2016 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the trend of misuse of performance-enhancing supplements by teens, who are not athletes, to enhance their appearances, is fast becoming a cause of worry for parents and authorities in the country.

Co-author of the report Dr. Michele LaBotz said, “Doctors think of performance-enhancing substance use as an athlete problem, but many non-athletes are using these substances for appearance enhancement.”

The American teens have been seen abusing a host of such supplements, including steroids, protein powders, diet pills, etc. Lack of regulation regarding these supplements poses greater risks to the teens abusing such products. Boys generally use more of the protein supplements, steroids, caffeine and creatine, while girls are seen patronizing non-prescription weight loss supplements.

As per experts, it is peer pressure which is forcing the youngsters to take to such a risky proposition which poses many risks to users.

Abuse of performance-enhancing substances and cardiovascular problems

These supplements, which are often available over-the-counter, are likely to be addictive and laced with steroids, toxic heavy metals, like lead and mercury, and stimulants. Dr. LaBotz said that these spiked supplements put the teens at a higher risk of becoming victims of cardiovascular problems. “If you are one of the many teens already on stimulants for ADHD, you’re compounding the risk of heart problems,” she said.

LaBotz said that there are many irrevocable ill effects of using these supplements as the use of some steroids might result in stunted growth and growth of male breasts, which are hard to reduce even after the discontinuation of supplements.

The most prominent negative impact of abusing these performance-enhancing supplements is that they may lead to an abuse of other substances, like alcohol or drugs, and teens may partake in other risky behaviors. LaBotz said that various studies corroborate this finding. Parents of such teens should be extra vigilant and carry out a periodic check on their children to find whether they have become addicted to any substance. It could be a bigger mayhem fighting the supplement misuse along with other illicit substances.

Hence, it is only desirable to impart regular education about the dangers of supplements to both the teens and their parents. In fact, parents play a greater role in fighting this problem because the teens on their own may not understand the possible threats posed by these supplements. It is the duty of the parents to help children understand the consequences of use and misuse of these supplements and urge them to refrain from their possible abuse.

Irrespective of whether misuse of performance-enhancing supplements leads to an addiction of other illegal drugs in teens or not, the side effects are enough to jeopardize their lives. Bringing out a legislation to regulate such supplements in the near future would be a welcome change.

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