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Synthetic human growth hormone usage on rise in teens

Voyage to Eternity - A couple buy some narcotics from an apothecary whose assistant, Death, works with a pestle and mortar in the back room. Coloured lithograph by J. Grandville.
Voyage to Eternity - A couple buy some narcotics from an apothecary whose assistant, Death, works with a pestle and mortar in the back room. Coloured lithograph by J. Grandville.
Wellcome Library no. 16624i

Synthetic human growth hormone, hGH, abuse has more than doubled in teens since 2012, a significant increase in the reported lifetime use of that substance.

The information, gleaned from an evaluation by the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, (PATS), showed that, "11 percent of teens in grades 9-12 reported “ever having used” synthetic human growth hormone without a prescription, up dramatically from just 5 percent in 2012," according to a Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

The pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure in the brain, produces HGH. This powerful hormone fuels growth in adolescents as well as children. The substance also helps regulate other things in us like bone and muscle growth, composition of our bodies, fluids within, fat and sugar metabolism. This hormone is also produced synthetically, and can be found in some prescription drugs, and other products easily available on the Internet.

Interest has grown over the years by teens looking for an edge in sports, for instance, using performance-enhancing drugs like hGH, and steroids. Both come with some serious side-effects, including deadly ones. Adults as well use the substances.

According to WebMD, possible side effects of hGH use include:

  • Nerve, muscle or joint pain
  • Swelling due to fluid in the body's tissues (edema)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Numbness and tingling of the skin
  • High cholesterol levels

Risk of diabetes, and contributing to the increased growth of cancerous tumors are also possible. One of the more problematic factors may occur when buying this drug on the black market. It could contain adulterants, and you have no idea what they might be.

The PATS study also found that, "African-Americans and Hispanics were more likely to report the use of synthetic hGH with 15 percent of African-American teens, 13 percent of Hispanic teens and 9 percent of Caucasian teens saying they used synthetic hGH at least once within their lifetime. Both boys and girls report use of synthetic human growth hormone and steroids without a prescription. The PATS study found no significant difference between the proportions of teen boys vs. teen girls, who report using synthetic hGH (12 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively)," reported Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Also included in the increased use by teens were steroids, although not as significant of a rise as hGH, 5 percent in 2009, and 7 percent in 2013.

These substances taken by teens may have a greater negative impact since their bodies are still developing, including the frontal lobes of the brain. The use of steroids alone have demonstrated disastrous complications, and even death. Synthetic hGH is in the same category as far as their potential for harm, especially in children and teens.

If you or someone you know is using these substances, without medical necessity, seek help. This is not a game you're playing on the field. It is a game you are playing with your body, and loser might be you.


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"One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States and that trend is being driven by prescription (Rx) painkillers." (

If you or a loved one needs help with any type of drug abuse/addiction problem, contact these sites depending on where you live. SEMCA (Wayne County residents), CARE (Macomb County residents), PACE (Oakland County residents), Drug Free Detroit (City of Detroit residents). For those residing outside the State of Michigan, contact SAMHSA for assistance. For assistance with medical marijuana issues contact The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center, or, phone number: (313) 967-9999, or (248) 677-2888.

Substance abuse and mental health treatment locator here: SAMSHA

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