Wednesday, February 25, 2009

At the Heart of Steroids

When professional baseball player, Alex Rodriguez, admitted to using steroids, a nine-year-old boy told a TV reporter, “I don’t think what A-Rod did is wrong, really, but it’s not good for him.”

I was stopped in my tracks. Where did this boy get the idea that there’s nothing wrong with using steroids? The drugs are illegal; people who use them are cheating. He got this part right: they aren’t good for you; they can kill you.

I saw first hand how steroids can affect those who use them – and the people who love the abuser – while producing our DVD Steroids: True Stories Hosted by Curt Schilling.

Craig is profiled in the program. He’d used steroids during his teens and early twenties, because he was obsessed with being bigger and stronger. When he developed chest pains he went to the doctor, who warned that his heart muscle was hardening: If Craig didn’t get off the steroids, he could have a heart attack. He could die.

That didn’t stop Craig. Nor did the pleading of his parents, Jake and Joyce who’d endured years of his lying and "roid rages". Jake put it bluntly: “I said this on numerous occasions. ‘This would be easier if he was dead. It would be the easy way out. We wouldn’t have to deal with this.’ ”

Craig admits that the drugs turned him into a monster. “I had blowouts with my parents,” he says. “I had blowouts with my sister. Basically everybody who cared about me I kind of turned my back on and I was just . . . not in denial, I just don’t think I cared.”

That’s how addiction changes users. You don’t care about anyone or anything but the drug.

At last, Craig quit abusing steroids for good – after his new marriage broke up and a judge told him that if he didn’t stop using steroids, he’d never see his infant son.

When Craig describes throwing a bucket filled with his drug paraphernalia into a dumpster one Father’s Day, he cried.

He wants kids like the misinformed nine-year-old boy, and all parents, to know that using steroids is destructive – to the abusers and the people who love them. And, without question, it’s cheating.

The steroid scandal in major league baseball has given parents and educators plenty of opportunities to explain this to kids. Alex Rodriguez, an idol to millions, provides one more.

The message is clear: When you hurt your body, damage your relationships, and cheat to change your appearance or to improve your athletic performance – it’s wrong.

Resources
Steroids: True Stories Hosted by Curt Schilling
Words Can Work: When Talking About Steroids

Related Issues and Answers columns
A sister’s story
A story of addiction
Avoiding steroids
Girls and steroids

Related columns for young people

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