79 Substance Abuse Disorders

Current research has found that people who suffer with eating disorder, such as the ones previously listed, also suffer from substance abuse disorders such as alcohol abuse, and the most common, steroid abuse.

  • Alcohol Abuse: is characterized as the excessive use of alcohol and alcoholic drinks.
    • High school athletes have a higher tendency to abuse alcohol than their nonathletic classmates, and male athletes have a higher tendency for abuse than female athletes.
    • On the collegiate level, athletes have a higher tendency to consume large quantities per setting and were found to have three times more DUIs than their non-athletic counterparts.
    • Alcohol dependence can impact negatively the athlete’s performance as well as allegiance to the team. It can also have a negative effect on team moral as the player’s abuse is affecting the total performance of the team. It is the critical job of the sports medical team to educate the athletes on the affects of alcohol.
    • Younger athletes are usually unaware of the potential for abuse of alcohol. Education can help deter abuse. This counseling should not only include how it affects the athlete’s performance on the field, but how it can affect an athlete’s life and family.
  • Anabolic Steroid Abuse is charcaterized as are compounds, derived from testosterone, which promote tissue growth and repair. Because they have been used improperly by body builders and other athletes, they are controlled substances under United States federal law.
  • It is estimated that one billion people in the United States have at least once used illegal steroids. Half of these users started before the age of 16. Estimates for body builders range from 50-80%.
  • The athletes who have a higher potential for steroid use are those emphasizing strength and endurance such as weightlifting (80-90%) and track and field( 40-50%).
  • Ever wondered how those bulky weight lifters got so big? While some may have gotten their muscles through a strict regimen of weightlifting and diet, others may have gotten that way through the illegal use of anabolic-androgenic steroids.
  • “Anabolic” refers to a steroid’s ability to help build muscle and “androgenic” refers to their role in promoting the development of male sexual characteristics. Other types of steroids, like cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone, do not build muscle, are not anabolic, and therefore do not have the same harmful effects.
  • While using the steroids, the athlete will experience a feeling of euphoria, irritability, and grandiosity. These feelings may reach the point of feeling invincible. This can lead to roid rage, the violent behavior sometimes a side effect of steroids. Steroids can cause this change in behavior; those with no history of antisocial behavior have been known to commit murder. Physical side effects of steroid use for men include shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk for prostate cancer include prostate enlargement, shrinkage of testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, difficulty or pain in urinating. Side effects for steroid use for women include growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a permanently deepened voice
  • . Steroids are also physically and psychologically addictive. When a steroid user stops use, he or she may become anxious, depressed, and overly concerned with his or her physical shape.
  • Another type of steroid is Steroid precursors. such as androstenedione (“andro”) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), are substances that the body converts into anabolic steroids. They are used to increase muscle mass.
  • Symptoms for both male and femles include:
    • Acne, really bad acne, especially on face and back
    • Baldness
    • A slow down of growth in athletes who aren’t done growing yet
    • High blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol changes, and heart disease
    • Blood clots and stroke
    • Liver damage, jaundice, or liver cancer
    • Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps
    • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
    • Sleep problems
    • Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, which can end your athletic career for good

Symptoms in guys include:

  • A low sperm count
  • Impotence (inability to get an erection)
  • Breast and nipple growth
  • Enlarged prostate (a gland in the penis)

Symptoms in girls include:

  • Breast shrinkage
  • More face and body hair
  • Voice deepening
  • Problems with menstrual periods
  • Clitoris enlargement

In addition to the above symptoms, there are also putting themselves at a higher risks for serious infections like hepatitis or HIV, which cause the AIDS virus.

Athletes may struggle to see that steroid use is very bad. They may say, “how can anything be wrong with something that will make me stronger and faster?” In 2005 Jose Canseco used this very justification for his steroid use in baseball. Steroid users are often reluctant to give up a drug that is perceived as good for enhancing performance and the way he or she looks. The sports medical teams need to take the approach of helping the athlete with his or her decision making skills. The Sports medical teams should be prepared to display how great athletes have made the positive decision to stay away from steroids so they could lengthen their careers, be more durable and decrease their likelihood to get hurt, be a better teammate for the team, and increase their decision making abilities. The athlete should be asked if the use of steroids is a viable choice in concurrence with the moral lessons of fair play learned by participation in the sport. Providing the athlete with this information and leading them down this road early in sports participation can help to curb steroid abuse later in life.




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