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Sports are one of the largest forms of entertainment within our nation. While many watch sports on television, there are large numbers who choose to play. The tasks of working hard to train and achieve victory over the other team can be exhilarating for some. Being that there can be much at stake, and a lot of pressure in regard to achieving victory for the team, unorthodox methods of improving have been used, such as performance-enhancing drugs.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of this situation is that teens have started to use these types of supplements or drugs for sports. Reports have been increasing all over the country of this happening. Performance enhancing drugs can have even further effects on teens in comparison to adults.
The Reasons for Use of Performance-Enhancing Drugs by Teens
The reasons for which a teen begins to use these types of substances can be several. For one, the pressure that can be involved within school sports teams can be immense. Not only are they receiving pressure to win from themselves, fellow teammates and their coach, but often times the student and teacher body is keeping a watchful eye over their playing as well. Unfortunately, even though these are simply games, there can be much shame involved in loss simply due to the pressure and expectations put out there. There have been many cases of whole teams or an individual singled out being ridiculed and shamed for having lost an important match.
Another reason could be if they believe that their rival team or other competitors are using performance-enhancing drugs, than they might begin to do it themselves to evenly matched up. There are also those who will use them purely out of curiosity about the effects upon their performance. And then there is the factor of stagnating in training. If they cannot push themselves to be any better or feel they are not improving, they may use the drugs to try and get out of that rut.
Types of Performance-Enhancing Drugs
While many performance-enhancing drugs tend to be prescription only, there are those out there that can be purchased over the counter or ordered online. Unfortunately, in the modern age of internet, these are easier than ever to obtain through that medium.
● Ephedra Products – Ephedra products, derived from the plant Ephedra sinica, contain two substances which can be conducive to performance boosting. These two substances are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and both in some ways are similar to amphetamine. They are used by athletes for the provided boost of energy, as well as assistance with weight loss. There are several different side effects of ephedra products, including but not limited to seizure, stroke, and in the extreme, death. The FDA had even banned ephedra in dietary supplements years ago due to the concern that arose from them.
● Creatine – Creatine is a compound that is actually produced in small amounts within our bodies by the liver, and then is stored in the skeletal muscles. It is also contained within red meats and fish. It is produced in the form of supplements which can be purchased in a few different places, such as online, health food stores, and pharmacies. Creatine can be generally safe to use as a supplement when taken in the correct way, but when taken in large doses, it can potentially be dangerous. Because of the way it metabolizes within the body, it turns into formaldehyde, which could potentially cause damage to some parts of the body.
● Steroids and Steroid Precursors – A steroid precursor is a type of substance that is processed by the body and turned into an anabolic steroid. Anabolic steroids are artificial forms of the male sex hormone testosterone, and they are generally prescribed and are otherwise illegal to possess or use. Steroids are the typical performance enhancement drug that most have heard of. While most of these are illegal to possess without prescription, one precursor which is still available without a prescription is DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), which is generally sold as a supplement. Steroids have a slew of side effects, such as male pattern baldness, acne, major organ damage, and halting of bone growth, which can bring about growth stunting.
Preventing Your Child from Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs
There are several things you can do to help prevent your child from using these types of drugs. For one, you can speak to them about the risks and dangers of these drugs which can help sway them from using them. Also, ensure to let your child know that you love and care for them regardless of their performance in athletics, this includes encouraging them rather than pressuring them. You can also monitor any purchases your child makes of supplements or similar substances, and make sure to view the ingredients for any types of performance enhancement substances. Educating yourself about these types of drugs can help you to be better equipped to inform your child about them.
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