Judging by media attention alone, it would seem that steroid use is confined to the realms of professional athletes and high school sports. The hype of the doping scandals in Major League Baseball, Olympic track events and the National Football League have brought attention to steroids in pro sports, which has led to a growing concern about their influence on younger athletes. But are steroids only found in the lockers of students and super-stars? Who are the real users of steroids and why would they use them?
Steroid writer Lena Butler reports that recent polling among steroid users suggest that almost 80 percent of steroid users are body builders who don’t compete or play any sports whatsoever. And most are young men in their mid to late 20s, with middle-class backgrounds. Some of these steroid users include military professionals, law enforcement officers, bouncers or any other person whose job requires a good deal of strength. But an increasing majority of steroid users today are business professionals who cite weight loss, shaping up their bodies and reversing aging as reasons for taking the drugs.
The influence on high school students by professional athletes taking steroids and succeeding to become super stars who make millions of dollars has become a real concern in today’s world of Congressional hearings on doping in baseball and gold medals stripped by the Olympic committee and for good reason. Students who use steroids can cause irreparable damage to their health and their numbers are on the rise.
According to the Child Trends Data Bank, steroid use among eighth and tenth graders in the 1990s stayed at around 1 percent. For tenth graders, that number has more than doubled in this decade. The majority of high school steroid users are male athletes. Over five percent of high school seniors who competed in sports reported using steroids at least once during their years in school. A little over two percent of seniors reported using steroids and did not belong to a sports program. Much like steroid use among professional athletes, little is known about the number of collegiate athletes who use steroids because of rules banning their use. It is surveyed, however, that only about one percent of non-athletes in college use steroids during their time in school.
Although not as publicized as the scandalous professional athlete steroid user, or as mundane as the bouncer/amateur weightlifter steroid user or as scary as the student athlete steroid user, there is a sub sect of the steroid culture that has a very positive story about its useÂ those who take steroids for medical reasons. Steroids are often administered by doctors to patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, or any other disease that may cause the muscles to atrophy. Patients taking steroids report greater mobility and an easier time exercising which helps their recovery.
While the steroid using athletes who we watch nightly on ESPN may take up a lion’s share of the attention about steroid use, it is important to remember that there are many others who use steroids for a variety of reasons and to varying degrees.