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Deadly search for beautiful bodies.

The greatest abuse of anabolic steroids is not by competitive athletes, but in youths who take them for cosmetic reasons to develop a muscular physique. "A recent study suggests that 250,000 to 500,000 high school male seniors under the age of 18 have used or are currently using anabolic steroids," reports Herbert A. Haupt, a St. Louis orthopedist who served as a drug tester for the U.S. Olympic trials.

"Unlike the competitive athlete who finds it convenient to terminate the use of anabolic steroids when competition ends, the young male body builders are likely to continue to take steroids indefinitely to maintain the cosmetic effects. The abuse of steroids by young males is becoming as prevalent as eating disorders in young females. We now know more about the addictive nature of these drugs and their adverse psychological effects. Parents should educate themselves about the signs of anabolic steroid abuse so that they can intervene with teens." They should be concerned if their child develops a preoccupation in working out with weights and becoming bigger "overnight," develops acne, and/or experiences a change in mood or behavior.

Anabolic steroid abusers usually suffer some degree of personality change, ranging from mood swings to a severe psychosis requiring hospitalization. "A Jekyll and Hyde personality is common where even the slightest provocation can cause an exaggerated, violent, and often uncontrolled response." They often suffer in their personal relationships with others, resulting in separations from family and friends. The psychological effects are reversible when steroid use is discontinued, but the social scars may be permanent.

Habituation mainly is due to a psychological dependence on the drug's effects. "Non-competitive youths who take anabolic steroids for cosmetic purposes often develop altered body images. [They] may become obsessed with their new body image and, since the effects are maintained only as long as the steroids are continued, become chronic steroid abusers."

Withdrawal from anabolic steroids can cause severe depression. "Athletes who take anabolic steroids initially do so out of an insecurity in their athletic performance or their appearance. When the steroids are discontinued, the anabolic steroid abusers suffer loss of muscle size and strength, loss of peer group attention, and loss of exercise interest and intensity." As a result of these changes, the athlete may suffer a disabling depression that varies, depending on the pre-existing emotional status.
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Title Annotation:steroids
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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