Don’t be a dope
It’s a fantasy of most young males — the perfect beach physique. We’re talking ripped abs and bulging biceps, thick shoulders and a powerful chest. You want the girls to take a second look. You want your peers feeling envious and unworthy.
For most, such a physique is just that — a fantasy. Not everyone has the commitment, time, energy or genetics to transform themselves into a muscleman.
Some, however, look for shortcuts, and they turn to synthetic hormones similar to the male sex hormone, testosterone. Yes, anabolic steroids.
These drugs have valuable uses in the medical community, and are routinely used to treat diseases such as cancer and AIDS.
But for many young men, the cosmetic benefits of steroids are too irresistible to resist, and they acquire them from dealers who traffic illicit drugs.
Just recently, we discovered this is not just an issue confined to large cities. A community leader in our region contacted The Compass to raise concerns about what this person described as a “high use of steroids” in the area, and suggested the problem was evident in a local high school, where “enhancements have altered the students’ mood, increased aggression, resulted in loss of attention and focus of students during school activities.”
The RCMP confirmed they have “identified individuals believed to be responsible in the trafficking of steroids,” and an investigation is ongoing. A school administrator in Carbonear said concerns have been raised that “some teens may be experimenting with illegal steroids,” though he said there is no concrete proof.
These are all very troubling revelations, and we should all stand up and take notice.
Here’s why steroids are so appealing. They enhance the growth of muscle mass, and a serious user can quickly bulk up, adding anywhere from five to 10 kilograms of weight in a span of six to 12 weeks.
But like with most drugs, there can be adverse effects, the most common being elevated blood pressure, and harmful changes in cholesterol levels. There’s also a risk of liver and kidney damage, and some experts say anabolic steroids increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease.
One of the most visible signs of steroid use is severe acne, and some studies have shown that users become more aggressive and violent. An oh yes, and there are some “manhood” issues that come with steroid use.
Steroids first caught the attention of the worldwide media in the 1980s.
We’ve all heard about the scandals at the top ranks of professional and amateur sports, including the Ben Johnson doping scandal. Johnson was a Canadian hero, racking up record after record in the 100-metre sprint, including winning two Olympic bronze medals and an Olympic gold.
But he lost it all after it was revealed he was using steroids, which enhanced his performance.
Every major sporting body in the world prohibits the use of steroids. In Canada, as in most countries, it is illegal to obtain or sell them without a prescription.
But experts say only about half of those who use steroids are athletes. The remainder are looking for that “cut” look, and overlook or ignore what medical officials describe as “serious health consequences.”
In light of all this, we have to ask if the benefits of bulking up are worth the risks? And we also wonder if there is enough awareness among young people about the dangers. Perhaps it’s time for a little strong-arming when it comes to public education.