The high school years are often seen as one of the last stages of transformation for a teenager in the USA. Most high school students are 18 years old when they graduate, making them legal adults. These young adults are still in their teens, but they’re faced with making mature decisions like choosing the right college. Many college admission requirements are extremely competitive, so teenagers look for a leg-up on their peers. High school athletes are not excluded from the competition, as they’re competing with talented athletes from all over the nation and even abroad. Some of these teenagers perform well under pressure, while other athletes might turn to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to get into the college of their choosing.

Up until recently, many parents weren’t aware of the high usage of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) by high school athletes and even college athletes. Illicit drug and alcohol use is not new among young adults, however alcohol, drug, and performance enhancing substance abuse is under new scrutiny. Of course, most high school and college students do not play sports for their schools but the students who do play sports are often touted as the select few who seek to excel at both athletics and academics. These students face the same pressures as everyone else, but time and time again they are turning to drugs, alcohol, and PEDs (e.g. steroids, amphetamines, or human growth hormone) to keep preforming at a high level in their sport.

It’s not only the athletes who seek performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). In fact, many parents are going to doctors to get prescriptions for their children for steroids and even growth hormones to give to their children. This article reports that some parents knew about and even obtained prescriptions from doctors for their children who play sports. Some parents even told their children’s coaches and trainers that they were trying to get PEDs for their child. One student said some of his teammates took PEDs because their parents wanted them to be stars.

After high school, many students decide to go to college. At college, these students find themselves with plenty of free time and lack of supervision from a parent. Unfortunately, this can mean higher rates of alcohol or drug abuse by college-aged adults. The National Library of Medicine studied substances and alcohol abuse and published this study in the 2008 Journal of College Health. In the study, they conducted a survey of 418 male and 475 female athletes and non-athletes in high school. The study found male athletes were more likely to use methamphetamine, nutritional supplements, and PEDs. The study also found that male athletes in college were more likely to drink than regular male students. However, there was not a noticeable difference between regular female students and female athletes.

Steroid abuse might not be the only problem. Alcohol and other drugs are still used by athletic and non-athletic teens alike. This article by Jim Halley cited a University of Texas study which found that high school athletes were more likely to use alcohol than non-athletes. Associate Director of the New Mexico Activities Association Robert Zayas says they test for steroids, but the real issue and focus should be on illegal, underage drinking.

 High school and college athletes are a small segment of the population, but they are often under pressure to preform both in academics and in athletics. Some athletes and their parents may believe their child needs drugs to be a star, but the issue is that PEDs often have very negative long-term effects. Using steroids can make a male athlete sterile and can increase their risk for certain types of cancer. Is it really worth it? Check out the below infographic to read all the negative effects of steroids on the body.