Teens Turn to Steroids to Build Muscle


Wikimedia Commons: Rikard Strömmer

Bodybuilders go to extreme measures when hitting the stage including cutting weight and drying out. Teens go to even more extreme lengths to achieve these looks.

Tanner Fields, Staff Writer

The 1980’s were a pivotal decade for pop culture in the United States.  Acid wash jeans and biker shorts littered magazines and television. During this decade actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger became popular. Schwarzenegger brought bodybuilding to the forefront of pop culture along with his rise to fame.

Since this golden era of bodybuilding, classical physiques and impressive muscular structure have only become more mainstream. Modern bodybuilders like Chris Bumstead and Matt Thompson have built a stronger connection between social media and the bodybuilding world. The bodybuilder physique has never been more sought after.

However, with such impressive muscular feats come a necessary use of androgenic substances otherwise known as steroids. In the last three years, social media influencers decidedly became more transparent about their steroid use, popularizing the use of these substances among the younger generation who seek to attain incredible physiques in a short amount of time. The use of SARMs and steroids are now staples of the fitness industry and have a large impact on the world of bodybuilding. 

With impressive feats of muscular fortitude littering the explore pages of teenagers’ Instagram feeds, the yearning to look like bodybuilders is at an astronomical high. Teens who use the internet have unlimited access to acquiring SARMs and steroids, making influencers’ transparency dangerous. 

What many teenagers fail to realize is the danger of steroids and SARMs. For bodybuilders, steroids are defined as androgenic substances which increase the amount of testosterone, or mimic testosterone, in order to alter hormone production. In a fully grown adult, androgenic substances can act to replace lost testosterone or boost their pre-existing hormone levels. In a growing body, however, the results can be catastrophic.

The majority of teens who use steroids are in the age range of 15-17, which happens to be the most naturally anabolic years of a young male’s life. Puberty will be causing high testosterone levels, making a boost in testosterone levels for performance prospectively unnecessary. However, it is obvious that a teen on steroids will be more physically apt than a natural teen.

Anabolic steroids are a modern epidemic among young adults. These substances prove to be very dangerous to developing bodies. (Wikimedia Commons: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)

What is unforeseen is the effects that steroids have on a teen hormone production in the long term.  As junior Andrei Zamfirescu said, “I believe that steroid and SARMs are extremely unnecessary because of the amount of natural testosterone our bodies produce.”

Steroids have negative effects on the liver and kidneys when abused. In a pubescent body, hormone production will never reach regular levels after steroid use due to the suppression of natural testosterone while on a steroid cycle. 

SARMs are an acronym for selective androgen receptor modulators and were initially created to help treat muscle-wasting from diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, and more. However, bodybuilders and athletes use them for their anabolic nature. SARMs are less androgenic than steroids and differ from steroids in the key aspect of binding androgens in order to stimulate an androgen receptor. SARMs are also specific to certain tissues, while steroids stimulate many locations around the body.

Many teens have the misconstrued idea that SARMs are better than steroids, when in fact they are equally or more dangerous. SARMs have a high level of liver toxicity and also lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In the long term, SARMs put the endocrine system in a suppressed state leading teenage users to need testosterone replacement therapy for the rest of their lives. 

SARMs and steroids are a potentially dangerous performance enhancing drug, yet select groups of teenagers are still using them. In a private study conducted at Dakota Ridge High School, 2 out of 26 students admitted to using SARMs, or steroids, and another 11.5 percent of that study group said they had been tempted to take them. However, efficacy of this study is minimal as admittedly using steroids has the ability to affect eligibility in sports and events. This leads to a low level of honesty in reporting.

Nonetheless, androgenic substance abuse is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue for teenagers in the Littleton community. An anonymous source stated that his use of performance enhancing drugs has given him the physique he wants, but at the cost of developing severe acne and increasing behavioral struggles. Many students at Dakota feel the pressure of using steroids in order to attain the physical look they desire. 

For those concerned about where students are obtaining their performance enhancing drugs, the answer is rather terrifying. The majority of students using androgenic substances find them on the internet. However, there remains the possibility that there are influential people at gyms and on social media that are providing these substances to youth. To ensure safety, performing blood panels and monitoring liver health can all help to prevent the poor side effects of steroid use. However, it is strongly recommended to avoid androgenic substances at all cost, unless prescribed by a medical doctor. 

Steroids and performance enhancing drugs are a modern epidemic among youth. Students and young athletes are pressured into believing that steroids are necessary in order to be physically fortified. Social media and the internet prove to be a dangerous resource which gives kids access to the substances and perpetuates a subconscious belief that steroids are the answer.

The use of performance enhancing drugs is dangerous for young adults and those still in developing stages of their lives; with the use of steroids comes many long-lasting physical side effects. The social pressures of modern society makes the issue of displaying unattainable physiques seem natural, when in fact, media stars are using steroids to achieve physical greatness.

Junior athlete Josh Flanagan says, “Avoiding steroids is in any young bodybuilder’s best interest.”