|Teen-age lifter Zoe Smith appears to be a role model for high school girls who want to perform and look great.|
I don't buy into this article. While it has got to be excruciating to have a child commit suicide, something I would never want to experience, I'm not sure that Taylor Hooten's suicide can be attributed purely to his use of steroids.
I commend his family for their work, but am not sure I see a significant number of high school girl's using steroids to improve appearance or performance.
My impression is that this issue is over-hyped in order to generate interest.
To get backround on where this is coming from, check out their website:
http://taylorhooton.org/ and form your own opinion.
NORWALK -- Performance-enhancing drugs have been in the news so much that the acronym PED is recognizable shorthand for many people.
But what about APED? That stands for appearance -- and performance-enhancing drugs -- a more accurate description of why teenagers can be lured into the use of dangerous anabolic steroids, says Don Hooton Jr., whose 17-year-old brother, Taylor, became depressed and committed suicide in 2003 after using anabolic steroids.
Taylor was a Texas high-school baseball player looking to add muscle, which aligns with the common understanding of what performance-enhancement drugs can do for athletes such as Barry Bonds and, more recently, Melky Cabrera.
But during a seminar on athletes, steroids and prescription drug misuse at Norwalk City Hall on Wednesday night, Hooton surprised many of the two dozen area coaches, trainers, athletic directors, parents and students in attendance when he named the demographic that has seen the largest increase in the use of APEDs.
"Young high school girls are the fastest growing users of steroids," he said.
Are these girls using drugs to add muscle and improve athletic performance? Studies show otherwise, said Hooton, president of the Texas-based Taylor Hooton Foundation, which promotes education about the dangers of steroids.
More often young girls are using them as weight-loss supplements. To the crowd listening, this revelation sparked a collective moment of cognitive dissonance: Using steroids to lose weight? Aren't steroids used to add weight? As with many types of drugs, it depends on how you use them.
"I was very surprised to hear that girls are using them for body-image purposes," said King associate athletic director Karen Cella, who also serves as the school's softball coach.
Cella said she hears rumblings about steroid use among students -- always boys -- but has never directly encountered an incident in her 15 years at the school.
"You see kids add weight rapidly, the drastic change in body type. I've talked to our trainers, and they've said there's always the possibility, but never a known fact."
During an hour-long slideshow presentation, Hooton, 31, highlighted the dangers of steroid use, including the side effects of heart and liver damage, and the increased risk of diabetes and depression. His brother, who had cycled off steroids, became depressed and hung himself by a belt from his bedroom door.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation was started in 2004 by Don Hooton Sr. along with family members.
Hooton Jr. admits that the lure of steroids is difficult to combat. Kids see their friends using steroids, getting bigger, and often want similar results for themselves. According to surveys,
one in 16 high school students have used steroids, but that only reflects the number of those who admit it, Hooton said. For parents who think their kids can't be using -- perhaps because they mistakenly believe that steroids are cost prohibitive -- Hooton said an average cycle of steroids (6-10 weeks) costs between $200 and $500 and are easily obtainable on the Internet.
Joyce Sixsmith, a substance abuse counselor whose son is a senior at Staples High School in Westport, said Hooton's presentation was eye-opening.
"I knew very little about steroids. You did an excellent job," she said during a question-and-answer session.
Tuesday's seminar was sponsored by the Fairfield County Sports Commission and also included a brief discussion on the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Giancarlo Ceci, a 15-year-old swimmer who attends the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering in Stamford, attended the seminar at the suggestion of his parents.
"It taught me a lot about steroids and stuff that I should not be putting them in my body," said Ceci, who added that he doesn't know of any friends or fellow students who use steroids.
After seeing Hooton's presentation, would he ever use the drugs?
"Probably not," he said.