Facts and Figures: Anabolic Steroid Use in Teens

Though statistics show that less teens are using anabolic steroids, they represent over 75% of steroid users overall. If your teen is older or playing sports, you may be concerned about the possibility of steroid use. Although the use of performance-enhancing drugs is a valid concern, rates of steroid use in teens is considerably low when compared with other illicit drugs. Here are some of the interesting statistics of anabolic steroid drug abuse by teens.

Current Usage of Anabolic Steroids in Teens

Vial Anabolic Steroids Teen Drug Use
Image courtesy DEA

The current scope of teen anabolic steroid use shows continued stability in the numbers since the start of the 2000s. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Study since 2001, the numbers have remained stable or shown a slight decline in teen use of anabolic steroids except for 12th grade.

The numbers for the 2016 study are as follows:

Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Steroids for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders; 2015 (in percent)*

  • 1.0 percent of 8th graders,
  • 1.2 percent of 10th graders,
  • and 2.3 percent of 12th graders.

Signs of Anabolic Steroid Use

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Doctors now know that teens who use anabolic steroids are no longer primarily athletes. Some are more concerned with enhancing their looks and "bulk up." To determine if your suspicion about your teen's steroid use are warranted, look for signs of anabolic steroid use.

Signs to Look For

  • Acne that becomes severe suddenly, sometimes overnight, marked by ulcerating spots, called acne fulminans in the medical community.
  • Short periods of rage, also called 'roid rage (short for steroid), marked by short temper and aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Sudden feelings of powerfulness or narcissism, can be paired with a lack of empathy
  • Premature halt in physical growth

If your teen shows one or more of these symptoms, talk to their pediatrician about screening them further. They can also help you figure out the best approach to talk to your teen about the possibility of illicit drug use. Pay attention to your teen's behavior and talk to your teen's school administrators to be sure they are aware of your concerns.

Steroid Use Paraphernalia

It is easy for your teen to acquire steroids over the internet, from friends, or at the gym. If you see a stash of vials, resealable plastic bags, or hypodermic needles you should look further into how your teen received these items. Also look for evidence of needle use if your teen has these paraphernalia are present.

Long-Term Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use

Talk to your teen's pediatrician to determine a healthy weight for your child. Tetra Images / Getty Images

If your teen is found to be abusing anabolic steroids, it's important to talk about the long-term effects of use. In addition to shrunken testicles, gynecomastia, or breast growth and baldness has been observed in boys. In girls, a deeper voice, enlargement of the clitoris and facial hair results. Over time liver damage, jaundice, fluid retention, trembling, halitosis, or bad breath, and aching joints. Life threatening side effects of steroid abuse includes high blood pressure, heart attack and liver cancer.

By Denise Witmer
Denise Witmer is a freelance writer and mother of three children, who has authored several books and countless articles on parenting teens since 1997.