steroids

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are medications related to testosterone (male sex hormone) that are made in labs. Doctors use anabolic steroids to treat hormone problems in men, delayed puberty, and muscle loss from some diseases.

Bodybuilders and athletes might misuse anabolic steroids in attempts to build muscles and improve athletic performance, often taking doses much higher than would be prescribed for a medical condition. Using them this way, without a prescription from a doctor, is not legal—or safe—and can have long-term consequences.

Anabolic steroids are only one type of steroid. Other types of steroids include cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. These are different chemicals and do not have the same effects.

How Anabolic Steroids Are Misused

When people take steroids without a doctor’s prescription or in ways other than as prescribed, it is called misuse.

Some people who misuse steroids take pills; others use needles to inject steroids into their muscles or apply them to the skin as a gel or cream.

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Talk. They Hear You

Problem of Underage Drinking and Substance Use

High rates of youth alcohol use, shifting state laws regarding marijuana, and the nation’s opioid crisis are prevalent health concerns that affect America’s parents and caregivers. Preventing underage alcohol and substance use is critical for the following reasons:

  • Approximately 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-attributed causes each year, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • An estimated 2.1 million people ages 12 or older had an opioid use disorder, and nearly 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.

Through the Sober Truth on Underage Drinking Act, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign to address the problem of underage drinking and substance misuse.

The “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign’s goal is to provide parents and caregivers with the resources they need to address the issue of alcohol and other drugs with children under the age of 21. The campaign has historically equipped parents with the knowledge and skills to increase actions that reduce and prevent underage drinking. Recently, it has expanded its messaging to include other substances such as marijuana and prescription drugs. The campaign now offers resources to help parents talk to children of all ages about alcohol and other drugs.

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medical marijuana

The marijuana plant has chemicals that can help with some health problems. More states are making it legal to use the plant as medicine for certain illnesses. But there isn’t enough research to show that the whole plant works to treat or cure these conditions. Also, the U.S. government still doesn’t think of marijuana as medicine, so it’s still illegal at the national level.

A few medicines have been made as pills and oils. These medicines have chemicals that are like the ones in the marijuana plant, but are not the same type that people usually smoke. They can:

  • treat nausea if you have cancer
  • make you hungry if you have AIDS and don’t feel like eating

Smoking medical marijuana can also hurt your lungs. These and other effects on the brain and body could make marijuana medicine more harmful than helpful.

Another problem with marijuana as a medicine is that the ingredients aren’t exactly the same from plant to plant. There’s no way to know what you’re getting.

Scientists are trying to find ways to make safe medicines from marijuana.

The NIDA Blog Team

A lot of things can increase the risk that a teen will have a problem with drugs. These risk factors include difficulties in school, problems making friends, even the person’s biology.

Another risk factor is living with a parent who uses drugs. A recent study offers a reminder that avoiding drug use is an important choice for the entire family.

A connection…
The study (co-authored by Dr. Wilson Compton here at NIDA) found that if a parent uses marijuana (weed), that can increase the risk that their kids living in the same household will use drugs.

Specifically, teens and young adults who lived with a parent who used marijuana were more likely to use marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol, and to misuse opioids, than were those living in households where a parent did not use marijuana.

The connection existed even if the parent(s) didn’t use marijuana often, and even if they had only used it in the past.

…not a cause
When thinking about scientific studies, it’s important to understand what their findings don’t mean. In this case, the findings don’t mean that if a parent uses marijuana, their teen or young adult will definitely use marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol, or will definitely misuse opioids.

Think of all those risk factors. Parents’ drug use is another one of them, and none of the factors causes teens to use drugs—they just increase the risk that they will.

The study does note that screening family members for substance use and counseling parents on the risks of using drugs may be helpful in preventing the cycle of drug use in families.

We also shouldn’t interpret the study findings as blaming parents if their kids use drugs. Parents can set an example, and while the study suggests that the example is important, choosing to use drugs the first time is just that: a choice.

Your call
For teens, it’s worth thinking about that choice, because, for some people, choosing to use drugs can lead to addiction, where they can’t stop using drugs even though it’s damaging their life.

As we said, this study is a reminder that everybody has a role in reducing the risk that someone in their household will use drugs. But it’s also a reminder that you have the power to make your own decisions about your health. As you become an adult, you’ll have to choose your own path.

prescription depressants

What are prescription depressants?

Depressants, sometimes referred to as central nervous system (CNS) depressants or tranquilizers, slow down (or “depress”) the normal activity that goes on in the brain and spinal cord. Doctors often prescribe them for people who are anxious or can’t sleep.

When prescription depressants are taken as prescribed by a doctor, they can be relatively safe and helpful. However, it is considered misuse when they are taken not as prescribed, to get “high,” or when you take some prescribed for someone else. This can lead to dependence and addiction are still potential risks. Addiction means you continue to seek out and take the drug despite negative consequences.

Depressants can be divided into three primary groups: barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and sleep medications.

TypeConditions They Treat
Barbiturates

  • mephobarbital (Mebaral®)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal®)
  • sodium pentobarbital (Nembutal®)
  • Seizure disorders
  • Anxiety and tension
Benzodiazepines

  • alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin®)
  • diazepam (Valium®)
  • estazolam (ProSom®)
  • lorazepam (Ativan®)
  • Acute stress reactions
  • Panic attacks
  • Convulsions
  • Sleep disorders
Sleep Medications

  • eszopiclone (Lunesta®)
  • zolpidem (Ambien®)
  • zaleplon (Sonata®)
  • Sleep disorders

How Prescription Depressants Are Misused

Depressants usually come in pill or capsule form. People misuse depressants by taking them in a way that is not intended, such as:

  • Taking someone else’s prescription depressant medication, even if it is for a medical reason like sleep problems.
  • Taking a depressant medication in a way other than prescribed—for instance, taking more than the prescribed dose or taking it more often, or crushing pills into powder or opening capsules to snort or inject the drug.
  • Taking a depressant to get “high.”
  • Taking a depressant with other drugs or to counteract the effects of other drugs, such as stimulants.
  • Mixing them with other substances, like alcohol or prescription opioids.

Read more about prescription drugs and what happens to the brain and body when someone misuses them.

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