Students Learn Dangers of Performance Enhancing Drugs
by Kate Snyder

For Brian Parker, alerting young people to the dangers of steroid use is personal. His high school friend Taylor Hooten in 2003 committed suicide while withdrawing from performance-enhancing drugs (PED). In a presentation that was self-effacing, engaging, and often humorous, Parker conveyed information designed to reach teen ears with this simple message: by educating youth, we can reduce the use of dangerous PEDs.

"My purpose, Taylor’s purpose, is to raise the light, and shine the light on this problem,” he said.

Parker divided his talk into to two segments, one on supplements, and one on anabolic steroids.

Supplements, which are available at stores such as GNC, include, in order of least to most dangerous, protein powders, creatine, energy drinks, and pre-work-out supplements. Part of the problem is that these substances are unregulated, so there’s no guarantee they contain what’s on the label. He recommended a website that has an app for checking the ingredients on a given product. Better yet, he said, eat food, drink water, and sleep more to improve athletic performance.

Steroids, on the other hand, are basically testosterone, Parker said, and challenged the stereotype that male athletes are the only ones using them. Non-athletes use them to look more muscular, he said, and the use among girls is increasing faster than any other demographic.

The side effects can be devastating.

Aside from the cosmetic rashes, hair loss, and bad breath, users can experience changes to reproductive organs, extreme mood swings, and damage to the heart. Young users can permanently skew their bodies’ hormone balance. And when users withdraw from steroids, the body’s chemistry can be altered dramatically, resulting in depression and the potential for suicide.

Not to mention, steroids are illegal, and those who use them are really cheating.

“You can be whatever you want to be without this stuff,” Parker said.

He encouraged students to log on to to take a pledge to stay off performance-enhancing drugs.