A new study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services underscores how difficult it will be to persuade the nation's estimated 250,000 adolescent users of anabolic steroids to give up the drugs. Of 55 adolescent steroid users interviewed (nearly a third of whom have been taking the drugs for five years or longer), 93% said they believe they made "a good decision" by starting to use steroids, and 87% would make the same decision today "without hesitation." More than 80% of the users, who included males and females, said steroids had made them bigger and stronger, and that "the improvements I achieved by using steroids made me more popular."
A vast majority said they felt no peer pressure to stay away from steroids—indeed, 85% said friends influenced them to start taking the drugs—and nearly two thirds of those on sports teams disagreed with the statement "My coaches really believe that steroid use is a bad idea." More than half said their parents "probably know" they use steroids.
Perhaps most worrisome, 82% of the users disagree with medical experts who say steroid use poses long-term health risks, including liver and heart disease. Many users pointed out that the same experts used to say, inaccurately, that steroids don't work. And though many users admitted that steroids have had negative effects on them—bloated appearance, acne and shrunken testicles, for example—87% said they believe that "the bad effects of steroids go away as soon as you stop using."
The study concludes that these young steroid users, like users of many addictive drugs, show signs of dependence and strong denial. The users might be wise to talk to the 17 former adolescent steroid users—some now in their 20's—interviewed for the study. Nearly all said that steroids do cause the aforementioned long-term health problems. One of the former users said that he is sterile because of steroid use, and that as a result of injecting steroids with a shared needle, he now carries the AIDS virus.
PLAYING THE MARKET
There won't be a trading floor, and opening and closing prices won't be listed in The Wall Street Journal. But other than that, the soon-to-be-operating National Collectors Exchange (NACEX) for baseball cards will work much like the New York Stock Exchange.
"A collector wanting to sell a card will have it electronically entered into the exchange's computers," says NACEX marketing director Art Skula. "Because there are thousands of potential buyers in every city or town where there is a NACEX broker, the chances for making a quick sale at a fair price will be enhanced tremendously."
NACEX, a private company based in Maitland, Fla., has worked out an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni association, which will receive a portion of every $2 transaction fee and of every $30 NACEX membership fee. The association hopes that a number of former ballplayers will fill jobs as brokers on the exchange.
The exchange is intended to bring stability and integrity to the baseball card market, while turning a tidy profit for NACEX. "People who are interested in the baseball card market will now be able to buy, sell or trade cards every day, not just at card shows on weekends," says former Cleveland Indians infielder Lou Klimchock, the national sales director for NACEX. "They won't have to lug all of their cards all over the place."