STEROIDS AND alcohol are destroying part of our youth of today, Professors have warned. Although it is the minority who are abusing their body with these substances, experts have warned that they are showing no sign of stopping – increasing even – and that it is of “crisis proportions”, writes Gary Barnes.
A host of speakers took stage at the Humber theatre, Coventry, today to discuss the prevention of doping in sport and youth attitudes towards it. With more adolescents than ever using anabolic steroids to enhance their performance in virtually any sport, five Professors from all over the world came to the conference to talk about what effect it is having on this drug-using generation.
Gary Gaffney, Associate Professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals, America, says he has seen numerous cases of teenagers who have used anabolic steroids and the effects they can have.
“Adolescents use them for various sports such as football (American) and weightlifting, or even just to work out,” Gaffney said. “These steroids produce testosterone and make you more aggressive which is just one of the side effects, while the withdrawal symptoms can be terrible.
“Anxiety and depression are very common and in the very worst cases I have seen people who are suicidal.”
Mr. Gaffney conceded that America definitely struggles with cheating in almost every sport, whether it is drug abuse or match fixing. Alcohol, though, appears to have taken a back seat with a drop in the number of youths who are drinking in the States.
Matthew Nicholson, Associate Professor at the University of Ballarat, Australia, told a completely different story in terms of how the youth of Australia are being affected. Mr. Nicholson felt it was more a case of alcohol being the influence on teenagers in his homeland.
He described the problem as being one of crisis proportions and that has led to deaths from drink driving, suicide and even rape. Unexpected pregnancies have also risen at a dramatic rate. Nicholson felt that there was definitely a link between sport – particularly that which is televised – and alcohol, and called sport as a whole, rather controversially, a “potentially dangerous place”.
Nicholson said: “If you look at professional sport on the TV and see the advertisements of alcohol, and then look at the adolescents of today, I do not think it is a coincidence. There is a shockingly high amount of alcohol adverts inside sport. Commercial breaks advertise beers and then kids see this and it definitely works as a cultural influence”.