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Preventing Steroid Abuse

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Because the dangers of anabolic steroid abuse are so great and because there does exist a potential for some users to develop addictive-like behavior related to steroid use, efforts should be concentrated on preventing the use in the first place, especially among young student-athletes.

By far the most prevalent anabolic steroid prevention programs in the U.S. are those aimed at professional, Olympic and college athletes. Very few local school districts have established steroid prevention programs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 9% of secondary schools have drug testing programs for illicit drugs and less than 4% of high schools in the United States test their athletes for anabolic steroids.

Even if such testing was more widespread, research has yet to clearly determine if drug testing is effective in reducing drug abuse. The NIDA is currently funding that research.

Scientific studies have shown that teaching youth about the adverse effects of steroids alone is not as effective in preventing steroid use as well as programs that present both the risks and benefits of using anabolic steroids. Students find a balanced approach more credible, the NIDA says.

How Do Prevention Programs Work?
Most of the current efforts to prevent anabolic steroid abuse are focused on professional, Olympic and college athletes. Those efforts mostly take the form of drug testing, rather than educational programs.

At the high school level, there are fewer prevention efforts in place. It is estimated that less than 9% of secondary school have drug testing programs for students and less than 4% of schools drug test their athletes for anabolic steroids.

Effective Prevention Programs Available
Although most secondary schools do not have official anabolic steroids prevention programs in place, there are programs available that have been shown to be effective in reducing steroid abuse, other substance abuse, and other risky behaviors.

Two of those programs, developed by Oregon Health & Science University and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are the Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) for high school football players and the Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) for school girls on sports teams.

The NIDA reports that these two sophisticated approaches have shown promise in preventing steroid abuse among high school sports players.
 
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