Steroids and the Body
To understand how steroids can harm the body physically and mentally.
Youths ages 14 to 18 are concerned about their appearance. Boys, especially, want to look muscular, and some use steroids to achieve that look. Some 6 percent of twelfth-grade males had used steroids, according to a 1989 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Using the information on steroids in the Resources section, discuss what steroids are and how they are used.
Explain that some athletes have taken steroids to try to enhance their perfonnance, because the synthetic drug can cause a 10 to 25 percent weight gain within three to six months. Other people have taken steroids to try to enhance their physique or appearance or to become more aggressive in sports competition.
Discuss some of the side effects of steroid use (examples: heart and liver damage, withered testicles, and sterility in males; masculine characteristics in females). Steroids also can cause extremely aggressive behavior, drastic mood swings, and depression. They can cause injuries in two ways: (1) Because athletes who use these drugs are bigger and more aggressive than their bodies normally would allow, they may injure other athletes with whom they come into contact. (2) Steroids make muscles grow, but not the tendons and ligaments that connect them; unnaturally heavy and big muscles put extra stress on tendons and ligaments, causing injury.
Divide the class into groups and assign each group to research one of the following topics: the physical effects of steroid use; the psychological effects of steroid use; the health risks of steroid use; and fairness in competition because of steroid use. Ask each group to prepare a brief presentation on its topic. Discuss the groups' findings with the class.
Anabolic steroids (page 11).
• Discuss how the revelation of steroid use cost Canadian Olympic Medal winner Ben Johnson his title.
• Depending on how in-depth the assignment to research steroids is, conduct this lesson over several class periods.
Learning to Live Drug-Free, A Curriculum Model for Prevention, U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program