Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Students who follow the news regularly or tune into sports channels such as ESPN are likely familiar with steroid use among some elite athletes. While the rumors of steroid use continue to dog some athletes who deny using such drugs, other athletes have confessed to using anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance and give them an edge over their competitors. Former California governor and ex-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, NY Yankee Alex Rodriguez, track star Marion Jones, cyclist Tyler Hamilton, and linebacker Shawne Merriman are a few examples of notable athletes who have all admitted to using steroids. The prevalent use of performance-enhancing drugs among famous athletes is particularly troubling in light of the high esteem bestowed upon them by their adolescent and teen fans.

Unfortunately, steroid use isn’t restricted to elite athletes. Increasing numbers of teens who are dissatisfied with their body image turn to steroids as a way to shed excess fat, build muscle mass, and increase muscle strength quickly. Currently, the fastest growing user group is girls aged 12-15, and the median age for both genders to initially try steroids is 15 years of age. A 2006 study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 1.6% of 8th graders surveyed had used steroids at least once, and that 0.9% of them had used steroids in the past year.

Steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. While anabolic steroids have some legitimate medical uses, teens who use steroids typically do so without the supervision of qualified medical personnel. Hormone balance is extremely important in teens, and those who use steroids face serious side effects and possibly death. Some signs of steroid use in your students may include:
  • persistent body odor
  • rapid weight gain with larger muscle mass
  • acne
  • shaking/trembling
  • jaundice
  • increased aggressiveness, anger, and/or violent behavior
  • red or purple spots on the body
  • gynecomatasia (pronounced breast development in males)
The best way to deter students from taking steroids or other drugs is to educate them on the risks. While lessons on steroid use are most common found in physical education, health, and science classrooms, the subject can easily be breached in other subject areas as well. This week I’ve selected two lessons on steroids for high elementary through high school grades, and one lesson on harmful substances for younger students. Throughout the week, we’ll be featuring many more lessons, activities, and other resources on steroids on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so please be sure to check those pages regularly.

How To Identify a Harmful Medicine
Subject: Health, Language Arts
Grade: 1

This lesson demonstrates how to identify a harmful medicine or substance and how to respond when offered or discovering one of these substances. While this lesson does not directly address steroid use, it does introduce younger students to the idea that not all medicines are “good,” particularly when not prescribed by a doctor or administered by a parent. This lesson was produced by Healthy Schools, a project of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Tendon Damage from Steroids
Subject: Health
Grade: 6-12

The purpose of this activity is to help students understand how using steroids can create problems for tendons in the body. This lesson is a product of PE Central, a Web site devoted to providing the latest information about developmentally appropriate physical education programs for children and youth.

Steroids: Are They Worth It?
Subject: Health
Grade: 9-12

Athletes acknowledge there is pressure to take steroids to compete. However, doctors caution that side effects from steroid use can include kidney failure, heart disease, brain tumors and impotency as well as behavioral changes. This resource looks at cases from professional, Olympic, and high school sports and what steroids can do to your body. This resource was produced by USA Today, an American newspaper that covers both national and international news and topics.

~Joann's Picks - 6/10/2011~

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