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From the Internet to the Border continued...

"Any way you cut it this is drug dealing. But unfortunately it's an issue. Not only does the individual like what they're seeing, but others, unwittingly, like it as well," he tells WebMD.

Anabolic steroids remain legal when used for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription. But their legitimate use for most disorders has given way to newer drugs. Still, Wadler says that diversion from legitimate medical practices is a relatively small source of illegal anabolic steroids.

"I think most of it these days comes from other countries," he says.

Supply 'Virtually Unlimited'

Anabolic steroids remain unregulated in most other countries, including Mexico, where they can be readily purchased without a prescription.

Raymond J. Giribaldi, told lawmakers Thursday that his son Rob traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, from the family's home in San Diego to obtain the anabolic steroids he used before committing suicide while in the throes of a severe post-anabolic steroid depression.

Joseph T. Rannazzisi, deputy director of the office of diversion control at the Drug Enforcement Administration warned the House Judiciary Committee in March 2004 that the supply of anabolic steroids entering the U.S. was "virtually unlimited."

Part of the problem for legal authorities is the vast variety of anabolic steroids and anabolic steroid-like products available. Literally dozens of anabolic steroids are manufactured, in addition to an untold number of precursors of anabolic steroids and other hormones, only some of which are illegal in the U.S.

Wide grey areas between which compounds are legal and which are not give sellers ample room to market products to uneducated consumers.

Drug tests for years have revealed athletes taking Equipoise and Winstrol V, two anabolic steroids made not for humans, but for horses and other livestock, Wadler says.

Officials tracking claims related to legal human growth hormone precursors on the Internet have found them almost too numerous to count, Cleland says.

"The fact is no one has a handle on how much of this stuff their really is," he says.

Signs to Watch Out For

It's oftentimes hard for parents to believe their kid might be using anabolic steroids. And it's sometimes even harder to tell of they're using them.

But there are signs you can look for. If your child has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may be abusing steroids:

For Guys:

  • Baldness
  • Development of breasts
  • Impotence

For Girls:

  • Growth of facial hair
  • Deepened voice
  • Breast reduction

For Both:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Swelling of feet or ankles
  • Aching joints
  • Bad breath
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Trembling

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