Clarksville, Ark. --- What comes to mind when you hear the word "steroids?"
For many people, it’s the image of the professional athlete - most likely a male professional athlete - who is using these drugs to build muscle mass and jump to the top of their game by becoming bigger, stronger, and faster. And while that image might have been accurate ten or fifteen years ago, the picture of today’s typical steroid user might surprise you.
It might be the 17 year-old quarterback on the local high school football team. It might be the skinny 15 year-old boy who wants to make the swim team. Or it might even be the 16 year-old girl who lives down the street, who has never played on a sports team in her life.
In what some experts are now calling an epidemic, the use of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs) has reached an alarming level among young people. Some estimate that as many as one million U.S. high school students - roughly 6% of the student population - have admitted to knowingly using anabolic steroids, and an even larger number are unknowingly using steroids contained in sports and nutritional supplements that can be purchased over the counter.
Taylor Hooton was one of those young people. Taylor began using anabolic steroids at the age of 16 in an attempt to build body mass and strength -- he wanted more than anything to join the varsity baseball team during his senior year of high school. But Taylor’s dream was never realized. During the summer before his senior year, Taylor took his own life during a bout of severe depression brought on by the steroids.
On Thursday, November 10, Clint Faught, Educational Program Manager at the Taylor Hooton Foundation, will be on the Ozarks campus to tell Taylor’s story, and to help raise awareness about the dangers associated with use of APEDs. Through a powerful and entertaining multi-media program called "Hoot’s Chalk Talk," Faught will describe the effects APEDs can have on the body, and will identify common warning signs that parents, coaches, teammates, and friends should recognize. The program will also focus on the use of widely available energy and protein drinks, as well as problems that can be caused by use of seemingly harmless over-the-counter pills. Throughout his presentation, Faught will bring in topics closely related to use of APEDs, such as honor and integrity, self esteem, suicide, decision making, and peer pressure.
According to Chad Floyd, head athletic trainer at University of the Ozarks, the presentation has been arranged by the American Southwest Conference using funds provided by a grant from the NCAA. The message, he says, is a cruicial one -- to alert people to the risks associated with using APEDs. "It’s not just as easy as ‘I’m going to take this and get this immediate result and if I don’t want to do it anymore, I can get away from it,’" he said. "There are so many side effects that people aren’t aware of. These drugs are addictive, and there are withdrawal effects from using. Taylor’s parents said every one of the symptoms was there -- they just didn’t know what they were looking for." Floyd hopes that by bringing programs like "Hoot’s Chalk Talk" to campus, people will begin to understand the risks associated with APED use, and by recognizing the signs will be able to intervene.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF), founded in 2004 in memory of Taylor E. Hooton, is dedicated to educating young people and their adult influencers about the dangers of APEDs. For more information, go to the foundation’s website, http://www.taylorhooton.org.
"Hoot’s Chalk Talk" will take place in the university’s Rogers Conference Center at 11:00 am on Thursday, November 10. The presentation is free and open to the public.