The Influence of Society on Adolescents’, Views Towards Steroid Use

The three articles I have chosen are all related to adolescents and steroids. The first article is entitled, “The Effect of High School Sports Participation on the Use of Performance Enhancing Substances in Young Adulthood”. One of the issues this article focuses on is the possible correlation between high school athletes and steroid use. The second article is entitled, “Effects of Mass Communication on Attitudes toward Anabolic Steroids: An Analysis of High School Seniors”. This article primarily looks at the role of the media on adolescents’ views towards steroids. Finally, the third article is entitled, “Sociocultural Influences and Muscle Building in Adolescent Boys”. This article tests the influence of three sociocultural factors on certain muscle building techniques, including steroid use, of middle-school boys.
In order to fully understand each article’s research on some aspect involving steroids, one must also be familiar with steroids themselves and society’s current position on the use of steroids in sports. The type of steroid use the research studies looked into was specifically the use of anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are a class of steroids hormones that specifically increase the production of testosterone.As a result of the increased testosterone levels, protein synthesis within the cells also increases, allowing one to build bigger, stronger muscles in a shorter period of time. Anabolic steroids were first discovered in the 1930’s and many studies were done over the next fifty years exploring the effects of the new drug. Years later, Ben Johnson’s victory in the 1988 Summer Olympics gave rise to the controversial issue of steroid use in the world of sports that is still discussed today. In the U.S., anabolic steroids are currently a Schedule III controlled substance maintained under the Controlled Substances Act. It was amended in 1990 “to provide criminal penalties for illicit use of anabolic steroids and for coaches and others who endeavor to persuade or induce athletes to take anabolic steroids, and for other purposes”. In professional sports, anabolic steroids have been banned by all major sports bodies, including Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Therefore, it is very evident that those who have relative power in the sports world do not view anabolic steroids kindly. However, the articles I will be discussing will examine the views of adolescents towards steroids, including the future use of them, the role of the media, and sociocultural factors, in relation to sports and in relation to themselves.The first article, “The Effect of High School Sports Participation on the Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances in Young Adulthood”, examines the relationship between participation in high school sports and the use of anabolic steroids or legal performance enhancing substances as young adults. The study analyzed data from approximately 15,000 adolescents, ranging in grade from 7-12, were administered a questionnaire measuring steroid use, supplement use, sport participation, demographic information, physical activity, and substance use. Follow-up questionnaires were handed out one year and six years later testing the same measures as the original questionnaire. The three main goals of the study were to look at the prevalence of legal performance enhancing substance use, the impact of sports participation on performance-enhancing substance use, and the relationship between steroids and legal performance enhancing substances.Recently, the number of performance enhancing substance one can obtain has increased dramatically. Past research measuring the prevalence of performance enhancing substances has revealed two trends: (1) males are more likely to take performance enhancing substances than females (gender difference), and (2) legal performance enhancing substances are more commonly used than anabolic steroids, which are illegal. Analysis of the collected data for the study supported these two trends. Males were almost seven and a half times more likely than females to report having used anabolic steroids within the past year, and males were almost sixteen times more likely to report having used legal performance enhancing substance within the past year. The main reason for this gender difference is the higher demand for muscles in male-dominated sports versus female-dominated sports. For example, there is a much greater need for muscles in a sport played primarily by males i.e. football than in a sport played primarily by females i.e. field hockey.The second goal of the study was to look at sports participation’s impact on the use of performance enhancing substances in a way never done before. The study specifically examined high school sports participation as a predictor for future performance enhancing substance use as a young adult. The data analysis revealed that males are four times as likely as females to use anabolic steroids if they do not participate in high school sports during adolescence. While if they did participate in high school sports during adolescence, males were sixteen times more likely to use anabolic steroids. In terms of legal performance enhancing substances, adolescents who participated in high school sports were reported at one and half times more likely to take some form of supplements as a young adult than those who did not participate in sports. Through these trends, the sporting environment clearly has an effect on one’s decision to take performance enhancing substances. “Sports participation during adolescence may increase the value a person places on physical fitness and, in so doing, causes individuals to seek out fitness-related environments as young adults” where performance enhancing substances may be more easily attainable.The third goal of the study explored the relationship between anabolic steroids and legal performance enhancing substances. Dodge and Jaccard predict that there will be a positive correlation between anabolic steroid use and legal performance enhancing substance use. The results indicated that those who reporting using a legal performance enhancing substance were twenty-six times more likely report using anabolic steroids than those who did not use a legal performance enhancing substance (cite). The article cites Gateway Theory as a possible explanation for this positive relationship. Gateway Theory predicts a positive relationship between the use of legal substances (legal dietary supplements) and illegal substances (anabolic steroids). “According to Gateway Theory, there is developmental trajectory or sequence of substance use, where the use of illicit substances is preceded by the use of licit substances”. Therefore, in accordance with the theory, it is suggested that the use of legal performance enhancing substances leads to a higher chance of anabolic steroid use.The second article is entitled, “Effects of Mass Communication on Attitudes Toward Anabolic Steroids: An Analysis of High School Seniors” was published in the Journal of Drug Issues in 2006. It intends to expose a relationship between forms of mass communication and attitudes towards anabolic steroids. The four types of mass communication the study looks at are magazines, movies, newspapers, and television. The article draws its data from a study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and conducted by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), which tested a sample of 2,560 high school seniors. The questions the adolescents were asked pertained to estimating the prevalence of drug use in professional sports, expressing their own attitudes towards steroid use, and estimating the amount of self-inflicted harm resulting from steroid use.In order to clearly analyze the data collected by ICPSR, Denham develops three hypotheses in order to uncover “how the perception of adolescents may be shaped by mediated sources of information”. His first hypothesis predicts a relationship between the person’s amount of exposure to mass communication and their estimate of illicit drug use by professional athletes. The data revealed a higher estimated use of illicit drugs in professional sports from those with higher exposure to magazines. This illustrates the influence that magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, have on adolescents who regularly read them. Exposure to the other three forms of mass communication (newspapers, television, and movies) did not prove to be predictors of higher estimated drug use. “Additionally, males and members of minorities also estimated higher percentages of illicit drug use”. This may be due to the fact that males and minorities “are socialized to view professional sports as a viable career option”. Therefore, they are more likely to be more knowledgeable with the realities of drug use in the world of sports.The second hypothesis looks at the possibility of a relationship between exposure to the forms of mass communication and one’s attitude towards the use of anabolic steroids. After data analysis, greater exposure to newspapers and television proved to be significant predictors, while movies and magazines did not prove to be significant. Other significant predictors of greater disapproval of steroid use included the importance of religion, sex of respondents, and environment where they grew up (urban or rural). Those who viewed religion as very important had a higher level of disapproval towards steroid use compared to those who did not view religion as important. Less than one in 10 females did not disapprove of steroid use, while one in five males did not disapprove. Finally, people who grew up in rural areas were less likely to disapprove of steroids than those from urban areas.The third and final hypothesis expected a relationship between exposure to the forms of mass communication and the predicted amount of self-inflicted harm caused by using steroids. The responses indicated that greater exposure to newspapers lead to higher estimated levels of risk from steroid use, while magazines, movies, and television proved to have little or no significance. Other factors that played an important role in greater risk estimates from taking steroids were sex of the respondents and the importance of religion. In general, females estimated greater risk of harm from taking steroids than did males, and those who said religion was very important estimated higher risk from steroid use than those who did not view religion as important.The main purpose of this study was to show the impact of mass communication on adolescent’s views towards steroids. Through analyzing the data, Denham formulates a main conclusion that supports the media playing a huge role in the issue of steroid use in sports. As a significant predictor of higher levels of estimated drug use in professional sports, magazines can be suggested to have an influence on the way people views steroid use in sports. Denham believes that some magazines now “serve an agenda-setting function in the sports world…telling people not only what to think about…but also how to think about them”. Through the results and findings from data analysis, it is evident that mass communication exposure has lead to a greater likelihood of the disapproval of steroid use in sports.