Performance-enhancing drugs and teen athletes
Performance-enhancing drugs can be tempting for teen athletes. Understand the warning signs and what you can do to keep your teen from using shortcuts to improve athletic performance.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
We're all familiar with famous athletes who've admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. So it's no surprise that as many as 1 in 20 teenagers reports using steroids to increase muscle mass.
If you're the parent of a teen, talk about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. By explaining the consequences of using performance-enhancing drugs, you can help your teen steer clear.
Common performance-enhancing drugs
Among teens, common performance-enhancing drugs and supplements include:
- Creatine. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that's also sold as an over-the-counter supplement. It's used to improve performance during high-intensity bursts of activity and increase muscle mass and strength.
- Anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone, used to build muscle and increase strength.
- Steroid precursors. Steroid precursors, such as androstenedione ("andro") and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), are substances that the body converts into anabolic steroids. They're used to increase muscle mass. Most steroid precursors are illegal without a prescription. DHEA, however, is still available in over-the-counter preparations.
Why it happens
Some teens experiment with performance-enhancing drugs as a way to cope with body image insecurities or to fit in with a group of peers. Others might be influenced by pressure to make a team or get a competitive edge. Factors that might increase the chances that a teen will use performance-enhancing drugs include:
March 11, 2015
- Desire to gain muscle mass or strength
- Negative body image or a tendency to compare one's appearance with others'
- Pressure from parents, other adults or peers regarding weight or muscles
See more In-depth
- Snyder PJ. Use of androgens and other hormones by athletes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Eisenberg ME, et al. Muscle-enhancing behaviors among adolescent girls and boys. Pediatrics. 2012;130:1019.
- Tips for teens: The truth about steroids. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Teens-The-Truth-About-Steroids/PHD726. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse research report series: Anabolic steroid abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Parent talk kit. The Partnership at Drugfree.org. http://playhealthy.drugfree.org/resources. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Steroid precursors and adolescent health. The Hormone Foundation. http://www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2012/supplements-steroid-precursors-and-adolescent-health. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Harris SS, et al. Performance-enhancing substances. In.: Care of the Young Athlete. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2010:81.
- Creatine. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- How to prevent drug use at every age: 13-15 year old tips. Partnership for Drug Free Kids. http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/age-by-age-advice/13-15-year-old-tips/. Accessed Feb. 19, 2015.
- Teens and steroids: A dangerous combo. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Feb. 19, 2015.