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Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame?

Pro Wrestler's Alleged Murder-Suicide Spurs Questions About Roid Rage and Anabolic Steroids

Are there signs that parents or coaches should keep in mind -- signs that a child, an athlete, may be using steroids?

One is change in musculature. Secondly, excessive acne. Third, irritability. Fourth, obsessing over muscle mass ... becoming obsessed with the gym. Those would be sort of some of them. It's basically a change in personality, an obsession with your body and putting on muscle and increasing lean body mass, [excessive] use of dietary supplements, obsessing over web sites that are directed towards body building.

It's a little bit of a complicated question. If you talk about a [male] teenager, you have to distinguish between a normal adolescence, which is heralded by a surge in testosterone.

If it's a difficult adolescence [in someone] who is not on anabolic steroids, they have a lot of acne, may be very irritable and may get many of the kinds of things we associate with anabolic steroids. Except in that case, the steroids are coming from his own testicles.

So it's a difficult thing for parents. They may overlook the abuse of anabolic steroids, or conversely, they may take [someone] who's not on anabolic steroids and assert that they are and lose the confidence of their kid.

How young does some of this use begin?

We know that as many as 1.5% to 2% of eighth graders have used anabolic steroids at least once in their life, and between 3% and 4% of 12th graders have used anabolic steroids at least once in their life.

There are estimates that between half a million and a million youngsters have used anabolic steroids.

Is it very easy for them to get it?

Particularly with the Internet, it's alarmingly so. And it also has much of the dynamics of other forms of drug dealing. They're not philanthropists handing out steroids.

What else would you want to add, either about roid rage or anabolic steroid use?

My concern is that it's a silent epidemic. [With drugs such as heroin and cocaine], you see people who don't look well, are losing weight, they're not concerned about their body. [People using anabolic steroids] look well, they're putting on muscle mass, they're more assertive, and so people don't think that this could be the product of illicit drug use.

People have to be aware that this is a very dangerous behavior. We have to make -- particularly parents and physicians -- aware of this silent epidemic.

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Reviewed on June 27, 2007

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