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How Steroids Can Affect Teenage Development

Teens sometimes use anabolic steroids in an attempt to boost athletic performance. These drugs work by promoting muscle growth, leading to enhanced strength and physical performance. While anabolic steroids are legally used by doctors to treat certain hormonal issues in men and for other health issues, you should not use them for other purposes, including to improve athletic ability. Using these steroids to build muscle can lead to serious physical and mental problems. Therefore, understanding how steroids affect development in teens is vital in getting them the treatment they need to avoid drug abuse. Fortunately, Destinations for Teens understands the unique pressures facing adolescents and young adults so we design our therapies and treatment programs specifically for them.

Mental Development

Using steroids can affect your brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for controlling mood. Teens who use these drugs over a long period can develop what is known as “‘roid rage,” which refers to aggression and drastic mood swings, including severe depression. This behavior can increase your risk of harming yourself or others. Fortunately, there are numerous therapies teens can participate in to identify, address, and help them learn to cope with mental health issues. For instance, we offer:

In addition to higher levels of aggression and moodiness, steroid use can also lead to feelings of paranoia or thinking that someone is after you. These drugs might also make you feel jealous of others, cause you to believe in things that aren’t true, or give you the mistaken belief that nothing can harm you.

Sexual Health and Development

Steroid use can harm your sexual health from the hormonal changes these drugs cause. In teen boys, steroids can result in growing breasts and having smaller testicles. They can also lower sperm count and raise your risk of developing prostate cancer. In teen girls, steroid use can lead to male-pattern baldness, an enlarged clitoris, and facial hair. Other effects in females include a deeper voice and irregular or absent menstrual cycle. In both boys and girls, steroid use can halt puberty, which can mean that you don’t grow any taller.

Physical Appearance

While using steroids can make your muscles look bigger, it can also affect your physical appearance in negative ways. In addition to experiencing hair loss or having facial hair as a girl or growing breasts as a boy, you might end up with severe acne that is hard to treat. Steroids can also cause you to gain weight, have oily hair, or develop reddish spots on your body.

Serious Health Issues

Steroids can have serious effects on your heart, including:

    • Raises risk of developing an enlarged heart
    • High blood pressure
    • Higher levels of bad cholesterol
    • Lower levels of good cholesterol
    • Increased risk of heart disease
    • Raised risk of having a heart attack or stroke

Using steroids can also affect other parts of your body, including your liver and kidneys. You might develop a higher risk of kidney failure or other kidney problems, as well as liver disease.

Other Ways Steroids Affect Development Effects Teens

Although steroids can improve muscle strength, they can also make you more likely to suffer from injuries to your tendons and muscles. Steroids can also cause you to have bad breath and might also raise your risk of taking other illegal substances, such as cocaine, which leads to other health problems. If you’ve been taking steroids or if you know a teen who’s been using them, professional treatment for substance abuse can help. Counseling or individual therapy and other forms of rehab can help you or your teen child stop using these drugs and prevent additional physical and mental harm. To learn more about the effects of steroids, reach out to Destinations for Teens at 877.466.0620.


    1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Anabolic Steroids. July 2012.
    2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Anabolic Steroids. NIDA for Teens. Mar. 6, 2015.
    3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Teens and Steroids: A Dangerous Combination. Consumer Updates. Nov. 4, 2013.
    4. U.S. National Institutes of Health. Anabolic Steroids. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Sept. 18, 2014.