A recent study in the Journal Pediatrics points to the growing phenomenon of “jucing” or the use of muscle enhancing behaviors such as using steroids or excessive protein supplements. The study followed 2,793 teens. Of those studied, 38% of boys and 21% of girls admitted to using protein supplements, and 6% of boys and 4% of girls admitted using steroids.
The risks associated with using protein supplements are not well known, and therein lies the problem, as Dr. Shalender Bhasin of Boston University School of Medicine states “the problem with supplements is they’re not regulated like drugs, so its very hard to know what’s in them. These things just haven’t been studied very well.” Many body conscious teens use protein drinks and supplements in the place of meals. This can be dangerous especially because some contain anabolic steroids.
The risks associated with anabolic steroid use have been well documented and are more dangerous for teenage boys because their bodies are not fully developed. Steroid use can actually stop the natural testosterone production in teens, which and can cause their growing bodies to enter a state of withdrawal once they stop taking steroids. Teenage boys are drawn to steroids because they help produce muscle and strength and enhance sexual performance and drive.
Steroid use among teenage girls is even more dangerous because the female body is not equipped for steroids because they contain the synthetic form of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone. When testosterone is introduced to the female endocrine system, it creates significant hormonal changes at a time when hormonal changes are developing anyway. Abnormal changes in sexual characteristics ensue, such as clitoral enlargement, deepening of the voice and facial hair growth.
With such significant risks, many wonder why females are even drawn to steroid use. According to the study in Pediatrics, teenage girls use steroids for the same reasons their male counterparts do. Both teenage girls and boys suffer from muscle dysmorphia, a condition whereby one doesn’t think they are strong or big enough when they are usually quite muscular and big. To be diagnosed with muscle dysmorphia, a person must exhibit symptoms outlined in the DSMV IV such as constantly looking at themselves in the mirror, becoming abnormally distressed if they miss a work out, obsessively worried about getting enough protein or food and taking dangerous protein supplements or steroids to compensate.
While it may come as a surprise that females abuse steroids for the same reason males do, it is also surprising that there is a growing statistic of men with eating disorders such as anorexia or EDNOS. Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, 10% of which are male. The growing rate of steroid use and eating disorders among teens is at a historical high. Luckily the addiction treatment industry is responding by creating specific treatment programs for teens with eating disorders. If you or a loved one is having difficulties with steroid use, body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, Passport to Recovery can help you begin your journey into recovery. Click here to begin your search for a reputable treatment center.