and Drugs˜The High Price of Success
By Dr. Richard Frances and Nancy Helle
widespread use by athletes of “performance enhancing drugs” many
of which are sold over the counter, was discussed at the recent
seminar on Addiction Psychiatry at Silver Hill Hospital in New
Steroids and other “dietary supplements” sold in health food stores
are commonly used, not only among professional athletes, but among
college, high school and ever junior high school students, according
to Dr. Robert B. Millman, a medical director of the major baseball
leagues and Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at Weill
Medical College of Cornell University.
take drugs for the same reasons as everyone else—performance enhancement,
self medication, and recreational use. Performance enhancing drugs
tempted Olympic contenders for over 2000 years.“To be the best,
the swiftest and strongest,” from the beginning people took everything
they could to help them compete. A l950s American Olympic coach
noticed that foreign athletes were bigger and stronger, discovered
they were taking steroids and introduced the concept to American
athletes,” said Dr. Millman.
current problem is athletes trying to beat the tests. Do we want
sumo wrestlers or gladiators? Since the l950s, records document
that athletes take drugs˜steroids, testosterone and its derivatives—drugs
with muscle building and sexual effects, increasing lean body
mass, speed and aggressiveness and making females more virile
with deeper voices,” he stated.
When college students in a recent survey on performance enhancing
drugs were asked, “If you knew you'd win or make the team by taking
steroids, but in five years you'd get sick, would you still do
it?,” nearly all said yes. When the question was changed to “if
you knew you would die within five years,” 65 percent still said
In most high schools today, 15 percent of the kids are taking
steroids, testosterone, or other performance enhancing drugs purchased
over the counter, said Dr. Millman. “When you combine weight training
with steroids, there is no question that you get results.”
if a young person hasn't completed growing, these drugs stop bone
growth. This is a major issue˜the side effects are hypertrophied
muscles and sexual organs, as well as acne, oily skin, and baldness
in male and females. And the problem of withdrawal symptoms is
like reverse anorexia; athletes feel like they can't stop taking
the drug. One negative symptom is hyper-alertness, a form of paranoia,”
Dr. Millman said.
People wrongly assume that what they buy over the counter is not
harmful. “The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994,
states that Œif you don't claim your product cures an illness,
there are no regulations on its sale.' The ingredients don't even
have to be listed,” said Dr. Millman.
pills are in everyone's locker in professional sport. Olympic
athletes have been busted for taking drugs which contains steroids,
even if bought over the counter. It's very difficult to get baseball
players not to take steroids. They say, 'I'm being offered a four
million a year contract and if I don't take the stuff, I won't
make the team',” he said.
You have to have a degree of narcissism to become a famous athlete
or celebrity. If they don't get admiration, they suffer from plummeting
self-esteem. Most of us are not being graded every day as athletes
are. They put themselves at risk due to 'acquired narcissism.'
They think they can get away with taking drugs.”
In asking, “Should we ban all performance enhancing pills?,” Dr.
Millman concluded, “I feel that more of these supplements should
be available only by prescription.”#
Richard Frances, M.D. is the President and Medical Director of
Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut.
Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001.
Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919.Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express
consent of the publisher. © 2002.