Most Steroid Users Are Not Athletes

Survey Shows Typical User Isn't Motivated by Sports Performance

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 11, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 12, 2007 -- Contrary to popular belief, the typical anabolic steroid user is more like an "Average Joe" than a professional athlete or competitive teenager.

A new survey suggests that the typical anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) user is a well-educated 30-year-old male who wants to build muscles and strength and increase his physical attractiveness. Researchers say the results show the notion of the typical steroid user as a "cheating" athlete is inaccurate.

"These findings question commonly held views of typical AAS users and their underlying motivations," Rick Collins of Collins, McDonald & Gann, PC, in Carle Place, N.Y., says in a news release.

"The vast majority of AAS users are not athletes and hence, are not likely to view themselves as cheaters. The targeting of athletes through drug testing and other adolescent or sports-based interventions has no bearing on non-competitive adult users."

Typical Anabolic Steroid User Is Atypical

In the study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers surveyed nearly 2,000 men about anabolic steroid use via the Internet. Researchers say they used the Internet in order to encourage men to participate by allowing them to remain anonymous.

The results showed that the average male anabolic steroid user is:

  • About 30 years old
  • Well-educated
  • Earns an above-average income in a white-collar job

In addition, the survey shows that most did not start using steroids in adolescence, nor are they motivated by athletic competition or sports performance.

Instead, the typical anabolic steroid user wants to increase muscle mass, strength, and physical attractiveness. Other motivating factors for taking anabolic steroids were increasing confidence, decreasing body fat, improving mood, and attracting a sexual partner.

Researchers found that men in this survey followed carefully planned drug regimens along with a healthy diet and exercise practices designed to maximize benefits and minimize harm.

"The users we surveyed consider that they are using directed drug technology as one part of a strategy for physical self-improvement within a health-centered lifestyle," says Collins. "Effective public policy should begin by accurately identifying who's using steroids and why."

Show Sources

SOURCES: Cohen, J. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Oct. 10, 2007 advance online publication. News release, BioMed Central.

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