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Study: Illegal steroid use an issue for girls as well as boys

Worry about illegal drug use by children is a constant issue for caring parents in Virginia. The general availability of illegal substances and the widespread use of some banned materials among celebrity athletes and entertainers keeps the subject top of mind for most adults.

While a lot of the focus is on products like marijuana, methamphetamines and other synthetic drugs, a new study suggests there's another category of drugs that needs to be on the radar. Steroids. It may be too early to be able to say how prevalent steroid use is, but the study indicates that it's just about as common among high school girls as boys. If true, it might be logical to expect an increase in allegations of juvenile crime related to the drugs.

Steroid taking is typically associated with a desire for enhanced athletic performance. Think Lance Armstrong. But according to the study by the University of Minnesota, there's also a broader correlation with social norms about body image.

Locally, experts in physical training and diet are noticing the trend. One recently told KVUE-TV that while the rate of steroid use in teenage males is running about 6 to 8 percent. The rate for teenage females is about 4 to 5 percent.

It might be easy to downplay the seriousness of the problem, but it's important to remember that steroids are a schedule III drug. They carry the same designation as the psychedelic drug LSD. The physical damage they can do to the body is well known, leading experts to say they're just not worth it.

Also, possession and distribution of the drugs can be charged in federal and state courts, and a conviction for a minor could result in time behind bars.

Clearly the stakes are high and juveniles facing steroid-related drug charges, or any drug charges, should look to protect their rights and their futures with the help of trusted legal counsel.

Source: KVUE-TV, "Disturbing study shows more girls are using steroids," Regina Mobley, WVEC-TV, Feb. 15, 2013

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