Teen Steroid Abuse and the Mental Health Athletes

Recently at an event hosted by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA), a concern regarding the mental health of high school athletes was brought into discussion. Since then, coaches and trainers have been keeping this in mind. Some have been working with the mental health staff on their campuses while others admit to being more aware of the mental health concerns of their athletes.

However, some coaches confess that it is difficult to spot mental health issues because they only see students for a short part of the day and that time is spent doing an activity that students enjoy.

Teen Steroid Abuse

Timothy Neal, assistant director of athletics for sport medicine at Syracuse University, recently chaired an NATA task force to help develop a plan to recognize and refer college athletes to therapists and psychologists in the field. He admitted that the athlete has unique triggers that are not common to non-athletes in college. However, he also indicated that athletes in high school present with a different mental landscape. They are still developing and require different levels of support.

Brian Hainline, chief medical officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), reports in an article in USA Today that the mental health of athletes is a serious issue, and that psycho-education is a key component in keeping young athletes healthy.

One mental health concern, among many concerning high school and college athletes is the use of steroids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, five to twelve percent of male high school students and one percent of female high school students have used the drug before their senior year. Learn more about teen steroid abuse treatment now.

Steroids are sometimes described as anabolic, meaning muscle building, or androgenic, meaning increased male sexual characteristics. The full name for this drug is anabolic-androgenic steroids, sometimes abbreviated as AAS. Steroids are drugs that mimic the male sex hormone testosterone, such as promoting the growth of cells. Particularly in the muscles, and enhancing certain masculine characteristics.

Effects of Steroids

At times, steroids are legally prescribed in order to treat conditions such as delayed puberty or when certain diseases lead to lean muscle mass, such as cancer or AIDS. However, athletes, bodybuilders, and others who want to develop their physical appearance can easily abuse the drug.

Steroids can either be taken orally or injected directly into muscles. Others can apply to the skin as a cream or gel. When abusing the drug, teens might take doses that are 10 to 100 times greater than medically prescribed doses. When taking the drug, the effects can be severe, particularly on the developing bodies of adolescents. Adverse effects of steroid use include fertility problems, impotence, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart and liver abnormalities.  Male teens might experience their testes shrink and growth in breast tissue. While female adolescents might experience irregular menstrual cycles and the growth of facial and body hair. Both genders could experience acne, mood swings, and aggression.

Because of the dangers of depression and suicide attempts, teen treatment for discontinuing a steroid addiction would be comprehensive and multi-faceted. Treatment might include individual and group therapy, medical care. As well as anger management classes, family counseling, and continued care to ensure a long-term, lasting recovery. Likely, this would involve that an adolescent attend a rehabilitation center so that he or she could focus on treatment and recovery.


Yet, the mental health of athletes, whether an addiction to steroids is present, is clearly gaining attention among national sports-related organizations, for good reason.


Mihoces, G. (March 10, 2014). “Focus on mental health issues of youth to college athletes.” USA Today. Retrieved on March 21, 2014 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2014/03/10/mental-health-issues-youth-high-school-college-athletes/6271157/