Teenagers have always faced a certain amount of peer pressure, but these days, those pressures are taking on a different form. While there are still the pressures to wear the right clothes, drink, have sex, and take drugs, many athletic teens, kids you’d think of as upstanding students that were on the right path, are facing pressures to perform and excel at their sport of choice. This has led to a huge rise in the use of HGH, human growth hormone. A survey taken in 2013 showed that nearly double the amount of teens had tried HGH than in the previous year, and teens are talking more openly about HGH. What exactly is leading to this rise in HGH use, and how is that affecting our teens?
HGH is all about improving performance. It is recognized as a powerful enhancer to increase both strength and size of muscle tissue, and it can boost endurance, speed, and the ability to practice for long periods of time. Many feel HGH is the ideal performance enhancer as it is a naturally occurring hormone in the body and has very few side effects. But its use is illegal and it’s strictly banned for use in sports, particularly in high school. HGH use in high school sports can lead to being banned from the team permanently, and it can affect recruitment into collegiate sports. HGH use in teens can also lead to side effects that are not as prevalent in adults, and its health outcomes for teens are questionable at best.
For adults, using HGH presents a risk to your health and your ability to participate in a sport that you love. But for a teen, particularly one that is pressured to succeed on the football field, they may not see any reason why you wouldn’t take HGH. Most high school sports have little, if any, drug testing, making the issue of getting caught nearly nonexistent. And increasingly high school teams that were once recreational, used to build confidence and skill in their players, are becoming highly competitive to gain notoriety and acclaim. Coaches can often pressure kids to win, demanding their best. Some even turn a blind eye to HGH use, or provide it to the players themselves. In addition, many players have college scouts right on their heels, promising scholarships and opportunities to start. For kids that come from poor, lower class lifestyles, sports are the ticket to an education and possibly a better life for their entire family. Therefore, the emphasis is placed on succeeding and when presented with an easy way to improve their performance, HGH, some jump at the chance. Add to that the ease of availability of HGH through a variety of sources, and you get a huge rise in HGH use in teens.
Not all teen athletes succumb to the pressures of sports, and not all teens use HGH. But it is rising, for better or worse. Should teens be allowed to use HGH, or not, that is a question that is yet to be decided. But while it’s still illegal, it should not be something that teens feel pressured into using, and coaches need to figure out how to reduce the pressure on teens in sports so that they don’t feel the need to use HGH. It’s a growing issue that’s in need of a solution.