A story of addiction
When Craig graduated from high school, he decided to lose weight. He began working out in a gym. Then he lifted weights to build up his muscles.
Craig envied the size of the other guy’s muscles. They confided in Craig that they used anabolic steroids. Craig decided to give them a try.
Most young people know steroids will make their muscles bigger and may enhance athletic performance. When talking with children about steroids, it’s important that parents acknowledge that while steroids do make muscles bigger, they cause serious physical and emotional harm. Experts say that if parents focus only on the dangers, they can lose credibility with their kids.
Craig’s dad, Jake, didn’t know his son was using steroids. Jake says he would have tried to intervene sooner if he had been informed.
“Steroid use wasn’t so out in the open,” Jake says. “What’s going on in major league sports has put the effects of steroid use into the spotlight.”
Craig’s mother Joyce thought her son’s health kick was extreme, but she didn’t suspect steroids. “He used to say, ‘Oh, I’m in a really good exercise program'." Joyce says.
But Craig was far from healthy. He was experiencing side effects of the use of anabolic steroids: hair loss, acne on his back and chest pains. There were other warning signs. Craig’s muscles grew larger than physical workouts alone could accomplish. His temper flared up in episodes called “ ‘roid rage.”
One night Jake read about steroids on the Internet, and recognized the symptoms. He insisted that Craig get professional help. The doctor said Craig had a serious condition called muscle dysmorphia. And that he must stop using the steroids that were threatening his life.
Dr. Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., is Clinical Instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession. “Someone with muscle dysmorphia is preoccupied with a part of his or her appearance,” he says. “They obsess about it. The person often thinks that a part of their body looks much less attractive than it really does.”
Whether someone uses anabolic steroids to change their physical appearance or athletic performance, they are dangerous.
Even after seeing the doctor, Craig secretly kept using steroids. One day, his mother pleaded with him to stop. Finally, Craig was ready to quit. He worked with a therapist for months. Keeping away from steroids wasn’t easy. But now, Craig lifts weights and stays strong naturally.
Craig regrets hurting people he loves. He says because of steroid abuse, he missed out on a lot of experiences growing up. Over time, Craig knows he may learn that steroids have damaged his body in ways that he doesn’t yet know.
Watch Craig's and his family's complete story in the DVD Steroids: True Stories Hosted by Curt Schilling. Read more about Craig, and other stories about anabolic steroid abuse, in Words Can Work: When Talking About Steroids.
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