Substances | 5 min read

My Child is Into Sports at School. What Performance Enhancing Drugs Are Used in Sports?

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On September 2, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On April 9, 2019

Family therapy and counseling for addiction treatment NYC
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Performance-enhancing drugs are another name for anabolic steroids (or just steroids, as users often call them today). The illegal purpose of such performance-enhancing drugs in sports is to build up muscles quickly or to boost male sexual characteristics. Unfortunately, because of their performance-increasing and endurance-boosting powers, anabolic steroids have become massively abused in both professional and school sports. The increasingly common use of such performance-enhancing drugs comes down to pressure from their peers, the draw of winning critical athletic scholarships to universities, and the popular athlete’s negative examples and influences on their fans.

The Widespread Use and Acceptance of Performance Enhancing Drugs In Sport Today 

The statistics released by the NCAA regarding anabolic steroid use are shocking and anything but encouraging. Over 75 percent claim that the steroids utilized in professional-level sports pressure younger athletes in school to utilize them. Fully 20 percent of all 18-25-year-old men regard the use of steroids as the sole means of becoming a professional level athlete. At the same time, around 25 percent of young males feel that such performance-enhancing drugs are critical for an athlete to enhance their athletic performance.

The numbers of those who use or appear to use anabolic steroids are still dangerously high. Three to 12 percent of teenage males and one to two percent of teenage females claim that they have used such anabolic steroids once or more in their lives. In addition, seven percent of NCAA athletes show an unnaturally rapid weight gain in a year or less (through packing on more than 20 pounds of muscle), indicating that they are using steroids in some fashion. As for those who admit to it, a smaller .7 percent of male athletes personally self-report using steroids.

Types and Uses of Steroids

Several steroids do have legitimate medical uses today. Six of the anabolic steroids are most commonly utilized illegally as performance enhancers in sports these days. The performance-enhancing drugs list includes the following:

  • Anadrol – a synthetically produced male hormone. It is legitimately utilized for treating anemia (low red blood cell counts). It operates by boosting the quantity of the hormones that produce red blood cells.
  • Oxandrin – the legitimate uses for Oxandrin are to assist people who need help regaining lost weight because of surgery or other medical conditions like trauma or chronic infections). It can also help to decrease bone pain from osteoporosis. This anabolic steroid is similar to the ones which the body produces naturally on its own
  • Dianabol – a hormone most commonly connected with male sex hormones. It was the second anabolic steroid produced for the market (following testosterone). Athletes made this famous in the 1960s when they utilized it heavily for enhancing performance. Dianabol is the company given a brand name provided by Swiss pharmaceutical inventor and maker Ciba. Though no longer mass-produced, it is still available online from underground labs. Dbol delivers immense muscle mass gain to users, though it is pricey and no longer so widespread in sports today. It has significant undesirable side effects as well.
  • Winstrol
  • Deca-Durabolin
  • Equipoise

How Steroids Are Used and Abused Today

Steroids are taken in many forms. A performance-enhancing drug list will reveal that many users take them in pill form today. Still, other athletes rely on injections from hypodermic needles to insert them straight into the muscles. Those who continuously illegally take these anabolic steroids are known as abusers. These individuals take doses equating from 10 to 100 times greater than the legally prescribed amounts that doctors give out for legitimate medical uses.

Worse for their bodies, many performance enhancers will simultaneously take at least two such steroids. This is called stacking. Users do it to grow larger quicker. Some steroid addicts will pyramid up their doses over six to twelve-week-long cycles.

During the initial stages, they take lower doses at first and gradually boost these to greater doses over time. Once they reach the second half of this cycle, they will taper off the quantities of steroids. Neither method (pyramiding or stacking) has been demonstrated to work effectively or produce superior muscle-building results.

Abuse of steroids may also lead to abuse of other substances, such as alcohol and cocaine.

The Telltale Signs for Steroid Abuse

Many signs are symptomatic of steroid abuse. Pimples will rise while hair falls out in abusers. Girls can sport masculine beards while the guys gain feminine breasts. Users can fall into furious rampages as aggression takes over.

Other signs are not so readily apparent to the naked eye. Hearts clog up, and tumors grow in livers. Steroids completely discomfit a body.

The most obvious telltale sign will be how the users quickly bulk up in muscle weight. People utilizing steroids will have rippling abs, bulging biceps, and mushrooming quads. However, there is a terrible price to pay for this over the long term.

In Conclusion

As steroids enter the human body, they reach varying muscles and organs. They will impact particular cells to help them make proteins. Such proteins are what cause health problems. For example, the liver can develop cancer or grow tumors in this process. Abusers of anabolic steroids also sometimes come down with a rare condition called peliosis hepatis. In this condition, cysts fill with blood and appear on the person’s liver. These cysts and tumors can break open, leading to severe internal bleeding.

Steroids do not help the heart in any way, either. Sadly, their abuse leads to strokes and heart attacks, not only in older athletes. It happens like this. Steroid abuse leads to the condition of atherosclerosis. This creates fat deposits within the arteries that will interrupt the normal flow of blood. As this critical blood flow to the heart becomes blocked, it causes heart attacks. When the blood flow gets cut off to the person’s brain, it results in a stroke in many cases.

Watching younger athletes for signs of steroid abuse is key. The telltale signs mentioned above are easy to spot, particularly the massive muscle gains. By convincing young athletes to lay off the anabolic steroids, you will be doing them an enormous favor in their future and potentially even saving their lives one day.

Ascendant New York Can Help You Or Your Loved One 

If someone you are close to or care about is living in anabolic steroid abuse and seeking detox in New York or Connecticut, you should know that help and solutions are available today. Steroid addiction treatment is offered at Ascendant New York. Ascendant will treat any abused substance sympathetically and in complete confidentiality. Our facility can put you back on the road to empowered living through holistic recovery. These treatment services are comprehensive and can start with technologically advanced, medically supervised detox to ensure that the illegal substances come out of your body under the supervision of our highly trained medical professionals.

We offer alcohol and drug addiction treatment in NY and specialize in a professional and comfortable level of care in a luxury setting in the heart of downtown Manhattan. Our team at Ascendant New York is always ready, willing, and able to answer any queries, provide assistance, and help you fight your addiction to anabolic steroids. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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  1. Otterson J. Infographic: Steroid Abuse in High School and College Athletes. Published July 31, 2017. Accessed September 2, 2022.