Celebrities can reach people where sometimes school doesn’t, so when celebrity athletes are seen taking steroids, teens receive the wrong lesson. Teens are being taught that steroids are not only OK, they are necessary for athletic success.

Teens think it is OK for them to use steroids for many reasons, the biggest being that they see so many athletes who owe much of their success to steroids. Teens see this athlete succeed – and how he succeeded – and use that as a formula to achieve their own successes. Another issue is that many teens feel that success outweighs the health risks that come with the drug. Some teens are not even aware of the health risks, making them even more likely to try steroids.

According to the National Youth Risk Behavior survey, 4 percent of kids in grades 8 through 12 are steroid users.  In another study done by Jay Hoffman, chair of health and exercise science at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, 57 percent of the 3,200 student users surveyed said they were influenced by professional athletes. Fifty-seven percent also said they would use performance enhancers even if it shortened their life.

The majority of steroid users don’t get their pills from a doctor; they are getting steroids online, and anyone with a credit card can buy them.

Athletes have a responsibility to promote and enforce drug-free game play.

In the NFL, testing positive for steroids the first time will get players a four-game suspension. Being caught a second time earns a mere six-game suspension. If players test positive a third time, confirming a pattern, the player will be suspended from games for a year and is allowed to return the following season.

These “consequences” are absurd. Players are allowed to fail drug tests repeatedly, and teens see that very little happens to these players. They think they also have no repercussions to fear.

If teens are going to stop using steroids, they need to see the athletes stop using. That effort needs to start where it began in the first place: professional sports.

Dominick Borruso is a senior at Hough High School. He wrote this column as  part of his senior exit project.