Performance Enhancing Substances for Teens
A performance-enhancing substance is any substance taken in non-pharmacological doses specially for the purpose of improving sports performance.
They are consumed to promote athletic performance, ward off physical fatigue, increase mental alertness and also enhance physical appearance. They're also taken to increase muscle mass and energy. These substances include dietary supplements, prescription medications, and illicit drugs.
Some common performance enhancing substances are anabolic steroids, creatine, ephedra.
Some shocking facts about performance enhancing substances:
- Young kids/teens are taking to these substances at an increasingly younger age, say at the age of 15.
- Most kids are not aware of a single potential side effect of these drugs.
- Most parents do not educate their children about the negative effects and potential complications which may arise due to their consumption, infact they themselves are not quite aware of them.
Why do kids take to these substances?
- Adolescence is a time when kids/teens are coping with the changes due to puberty, defining their sexual identity, releasing themselves from their families, and finding a peer group with which they identify themselves. This is the stage when it's difficult to make them understand the dangers to their health from these substances.
- Adolescents are also intensely preoccupied with body image, enhancing size, strength, stamina, or body build can be strong motivators.
- The child athlete wants to win at all costs, legitimate or otherwise, and does not follow the values of fairness.
- Kids may just become curious and take performance-enhancing drugs to see what will happen, even though they are good performers.
- They also take them because of peer pressure, who lure them under the pretext of feelings of invincibility, pleasure and euphoria.
What are the potential side-effects?
Some of the physical side effects of performance-enhancing substances include:
- High blood pressure,
- Heart disease, stroke,
- Kidney and liver damage,
- Reduction in normal testosterone production in males,
- Irregular menstrual cycle in girls and stunted growth.
Emotional side effects include:
- Overly-aggressive behaviour, being short - tempered,
- Volatile mood swings that can lead to violence,
- Impaired and slow learning ability,
- Weakening of short-term memory.
What can you as a parent do to help your kid?
- Make your kid aware that short-term gains can lead to long-term problems.
- Teach your child that a well-balanced diet and rigorous training are the true keys to athletic performance, and not the use of such substances. It actually amounts to cheating.
- Keep a check on the over-the-counter, internet purchases your kid makes. See what the ingredients are.
- Schools, parents, coaches should be proactive in discouraging the use of performance-enhancing substances, incorporating this message into their policy.
Scare tactics do not work with teens. They are they proponents of "I don't care" school of thought. Our goal should be to make them realize that success is not just winning, but winning it in a fair way.