Tyler Tx, (KETK) — The use of steroids and human growth hormones has been around for awhile. But, an alarming statistic shows the number of teens using these enhancements doubled. More and more teenagers are experimenting with human growth hormones to enhance athletic performance and looks. We're told teens today want a quick fix and don't care about the health risks that come with it. But, for some, these enhancements drugs have lead to death.
High school baseball player Taylor Hooton was a standout. But in 2003, he died from the effects of using anabolic steroids.
"He along with 50% of his team were doing these drugs," said Taylor's father Don Hooton.
His family was in disbelief.
"They wound up taking his life, we were shocked, by not only learning about the death and the dangers these drugs can be, but we were shocked and continued to be shocked by how many young people across this country are using these appearance and performance enhancing drugs,'' said Hooton.
He started a foundation to bring awareness to this problem, called Taylor Hooton Foundation.
Don said today's fix for teens is synthetic human growth hormones.
"We're learning more than half of teens are using these drugs not for athletics but to look better."
Don said the way to address this issue is to educate every child on a regular basis about the dangers of this drug. We're also told there is a fine line between where these teens are getting this drug and the side effects that come along with it.
"Short term, it increases blood pressure, shuts down natural hormones, increases estrogen levels in men, which could lead to long term effects that require surgery," said owner of Complete Nutrition Todd Gilger.
Synthetic human growth hormones is supposed to be available by prescription only, but unregulated online stores and vendors are marketing these drugs, promising improved muscle mass, performance and appearance.
"This drug use is on the rise, yet adult America is virtually oblivious to the fact that drug usage is going on," said Hooton.
Don said after his son's death, a number of his son's friends continued to use performance enhancing drugs. He said this just shows how addictive and powerful it can be. We're told for boys it's getting that six pack and for girls achieving that thin and toned body.
"I know people that work out and I play sports and I've met a lot of people that asked me if I wanted to use that kind of stuff," said college student Carlos Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he knows a handful of people that take these hormones. He said it's not surprising more and more teens are trying it out.
"Now more and more people are involved in it."
But, Gilger said taking these synthetic human growth hormones alters the body's natural production of hormones.
"Your body's natural hormones shut down and your body relies on that external source of synthetic formula," said Gilger.