With students back in school and fall sports beginning, there can be external or self-imposed pressures on student athletes to continually perform better. There are many factors that can influence young athletes to improve their athletic performance, including steroid use that happens from time to time in professional sports. As this time of year kicks into high gear, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital reminds parents to talk to their children about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances related to testosterone, a male hormone that occurs naturally in the body. These performance-enhancing drugs are used to boost athletic performance, ward off fatigue, increase muscle mass and energy, and enhance physical appearance. Some teen athletes may think this an obvious advantage on the football or baseball field, but unfortunately don’t think of the harmful side effects that can include heart and liver damage, stunted bone development, fertility problems, potentially irreversible masculine traits in females, and breast enlargement in males, extreme mood swings, acne, and weight gain.

Young athletes realize that their high school sports years are extremely important, a time when college or even professional recruiters are looking for the best players. For some, the pressure to be the best makes steroids hard to resist. The motivation to use steroids can also come from peer pressure or parental demands to achieve greater goals. According to surveys, nearly 6% of students nationwide had taken steroids at least once without a doctor’s prescription.

“I am troubled when I hear about student athletes taking anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass,” said Craig Deverell, athletic trainer for HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital. “The best deterrent is an honest, parental conversation with your teenager. The dangers of using steroids or any other illegal performance-enhancing drug is too risky for developing bodies. There are no shortcuts to developing muscle mass and building strength. The best way is a variable training regiment.”

Below are a few important tips to remember when discussing steroid use with your child.

  • Be yourself and invite conversation. Ask your children how their training is going. Ask if they are doing anything new to get an edge on the competition.

  • Start with questions about supplements. Ask if they are using supplements. If so, ask which ones and what benefits they expect to get from them.

  • Approach the subject of steroids tactfully. Explain that it’s all about choices. Every single athlete at some point needs to decide whether to achieve his or her greatest potential naturally or to cheat by using steroids or similar substances.

  • Get involved. Attend games and practices. Be engaged in conversations with coaches and school personnel to ensure they are actively discouraging the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Reassure your teen of your love and support, regardless of his or her competitive performance.

  • Observe your child’s behavior. See if they are developing muscle mass quickly, appear nervous, have mood swings, or spend hours in the gym or working out.

  • Explain that steroids won’t make them a better athlete. Steroids build muscles, but doesn’t improve skills such as hand-eye coordination, balance, reaction, or reflexes.

  • Tell them that taking steroids is considered cheating. It interferes with fair competition. Instead of taking a shortcut, strive to achieve your greatest potential naturally. Set realistic goals and praise yourself when you achieve them.

  • Talk to a doctor or to a sports medicine specialist about improving your child’s athletic performance naturally. He or she can coach your child on proper nutrition, rest, recuperation, and training techniques to help them achieve their greatest potential. For more information about this topic, visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids


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About HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital Since its inception in 1916, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville (GSS) has been dedicated to excellence in healthcare for those living and visiting their communities. GSS has accomplished this by providing comprehensive health services and meeting the needs of patients served through their compassionate care, business integrity and community responsibility. GSS provides a 24/7 emergency department that is fully staffed by physicians and highly-trained nurses, and also features inpatient and outpatient services, including a 24-hour laboratory and an imaging department that meets today’s highest standards for diagnostic imaging technology. GSS has an advanced surgery department and an acute inpatient care unit. Dedicated to being a hometown hospital, GSS’ home health and rehabilitation departments are committed to excellence with a team of professional nurses and therapists providing a variety of medical services and rehabilitative therapies, all designed to help patients heal in their own environment. The group of visiting specialists in the outpatient clinic works closely with GSS to help keep the healthcare services local even if a specialized procedure or exam is required. GSS strives to be the first choice for the community’s healthcare needs. For more information about HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital, visit www.hshsgoodshepherd.org

Media Contact

Andrew Dilbeck


HSHS Illinois
Office: 217-464-5610
Andrew.Dilbeck@hshs.org

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