Teen use of human growth hormones doubles, survey finds

BY Anna Christiansen  July 23, 2014 at 6:12 PM EDT
Graph by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Graph by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

The number of teens obtaining and abusing human growth hormones has doubled in one year, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

The finding was part of a confidential yearly investigation in which 3,705 high school students were surveyed. With 11 percent reporting using some form of HGH at least once, the rate is up from five percent in the last four annual surveys.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-doping Agency, partly blamed the aggressive promotion of performance enhancing substances in a largely unregulated marketplace both online and in store. He also noted that teenagers are especially vulnerable to such marketing and promises of improved body image.

Steve Pasierb, the President of the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, claimed that high school coaches have a key role in combating doping. He hinted that up to a third of the coaches are prepared to overlook the problem in the interests of winning.

The Mayo Clinic openly lists the hazards and side effects of taking non-prescribed human growth hormones by pubescent teens. The symptoms associated with injecting the substance include stunted growth, acne, liver problems, shrunken testicles for boys and excess facial hair for girls. There is also the danger of not knowing exactly where the drugs come from the unregulated, unmonitored market.