Student Athletes Also Taking Steroids

The news of illegal performance-enhancing drug use by professional athletes is sending young people the wrong message, making them think the use of steroids is a good way to fame and fortune.

In a recent survey by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a consumer group working to make the internet safer, 77 percent of young males—ages 14 to 25—said steroid use by professional athletes gave young athletes the impression that taking performance enhancing drugs (PED) was necessary to make it in professional sports or improve their game.

Furthermore, in a 2012 University of Minnesota study, more than 1.5 million middle and high school students admitted using anabolic steroids. The median age for first time use is typically 15.

A bigger problem is that steroid use by young people and student athletes often goes unnoticed by parents and coaches.

“Steroid and performance enhancing drug use is attractive to youth and parents should have open conversations with their children about the dangers of using any drugs, including performance enhancing drugs and alcohol,” said Susan Bower, behavioral health operations director for the County Health and Human Services Agency.  “Talking with coaches is another method to assess if your child is involved in steroid or PED use”.

So how can you tell if your child is using steroids? There several warning signs parents and coaches can look for, including the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Increased aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Being secretive
  • Fast muscle growth
  • Hair loss
  • Bad breath

Another problem is that steroids are easy to find online. It takes only a few seconds for a student to find steroids for sale on the Internet.

“Young people are very internet-savvy,” Bower said. “Parents should monitor their children’s internet activity to make sure they’re not getting steroids or other PEDs online.”

One of the goals of the County’s Live Well San Diego initiative is to help people avoid the trap of substance abuse and to help people achieve recovery when they need it. If you or your child has a steroid or other substance abuse problem, help is available by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact