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FEBRUARY 28, 2008
Kids on Steroids Willing to Risk It All

The recent spate of discoveries about steroid use by millionaire professional athletes has certainly influenced a whole generation of high school athletes. A study in the January 2008 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that most teens who take steroids look upon professional athletes as role models. In a confidential survey of more than 3,200 8-12th graders in 12 states, more than half of the users say they'd take drugs to excel even if it shortened their lives, and about two-thirds say they'd take drugs, including dietary supplements, to guarantee athletic success even if it harmed their health.

This new survey found 1.6% (2.4% of males and 0.8% of females) said they had used steroids. This is less than the 4% of 9-12th grade reported steroid users in the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2005. Whatever the real percentage is, that translates into hundreds of thousands of teens using steroids.

"Steroid use is going on in your child's school, team, or somewhere within his or her circle of friends. It's closer than you realize. The stuff is readily available in locker rooms and over the Web," says Don Hooton, who formed the Taylor Hooton Foundation ( to fight against steroid abuse after his son, Taylor, a high school pitcher, took his own life in 2003.

Hooton advises parents to become familiar with the signs of steroid use, and then watch your teens carefully. If you think there are enough risk factors, take your teen to your family physician and get a steroid test. "Taylor exhibited almost every symptom. We didn't know to equate them with steroid use," says Hooton.

Is your teen using steroids? Here's what the National Coalition for the Advancement of Drug-Free Athletics ( says to look for:

1. Large muscle gains in a short period of time.
2. Increased time spent in the gym and preoccupation with weight training.
3. Dramatic changes in personality, such as moodiness, aggression and hostility.
4. Breast development in males (and facial hair growth for females).
5. Stretch marks, especially around the chest area.
6. Increased acne on the back, face and chest.
7. Facial puffiness due to increased water retention.
8. Needle marks on buttocks or thighs.
9. Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
10. Reference to steroids in conversation, such as "roids," "juice" or "sauce".

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