Awareness and educational efforts are working to help prevent anabolic steroid abuse in schools and communities. The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) and the Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) programs, funded by the NIDA, and supported by the Oregon Health & Science University programs is teaching athletes that they do not need steroids to build powerful muscles and improve athletic performance. These programs provide weight-training and nutrition alternatives, increase healthy behaviors, less likelihood to try steroids, and less likelihood to engage in other dangerous behaviors such as drinking and driving, use of marijuana and alcohol , and and improved body image. Bother Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration endorsed these model prevention programs. 4
If a patient asks about a specific ergogenic aid, he or she should be told what is known and unknown about the product based on current research, including the side effect profile. The danger is that once athletes start using a commercial supplement, they will continue to use more, eventually trying something that may not be safe. Many athletes feel pressured to use supplements to maintain a competitive advantage over their supplement-using peers. If physicians can guide athletes away from disproven and dangerous supplements, while maintaining open and honest lines of communication, then more serious health risks may be prevented.
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