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Most steroid users are not athletes

Between 1 million and 3 million people (1% of the population) are thought to have misused AAS in the United States. Studies in the United States have shown that AAS users tend to be mostly middle-class heterosexual men with a median age of about 25 who are noncompetitive bodybuilders and non-athletes and use the drugs for cosmetic purposes. “Among 12- to 17-year-old boys, use of steroids and similar drugs jumped 25 percent from 1999 to 2000, with 20 percent saying they use them for looks rather than sports, a study by insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield found.”(Eisenhauer)

Another study found that non-medical use of AAS among college students was at or less than 1%. According to a recent survey, 78.4% of steroid users were noncompetitive bodybuilders and non-athletes, while about 13% reported unsafe injection practices such as reusing needles, sharing needles, and sharing multidose vials, though a 2007 study found that sharing of needles was extremely uncommon among individuals using AAS for non-medical purposes, less than 1%. Another 2007 study found that 74% of non-medical AAS users had post-secondary degrees and more had completed college and fewer had failed to complete high school than is expected from the general populace. The same study found that individuals using AAS for non-medical purposes had a higher employment rate and a higher household income than the general population. AAS users tend to research the drugs they are taking more than other controlled-substance users; however, the major sources consulted by steroid users include friends, non-medical handbooks, internet-based forums, blogs, and fitness magazines, which can provide questionable or inaccurate information.

AAS users tend to be disillusioned by the portrayal of AAS as deadly in the media and in politics. According to one study, AAS users also distrust their physicians and in the sample 56% had not disclosed their AAS use to their physicians. Another 2007 study had similar findings, showing that, while 66% of individuals using AAS for non-medical purposes were willing to seek medical supervision for their steroid use, 58% lacked trust in their physicians, 92% felt that the medical community’s knowledge of non-medical AAS use was lacking, and 99% felt that the public has an exaggerated view of the side-effects of AAS use. A recent study has also shown that long term AAS users were more likely to have symptoms of muscle dysmorphia and also showed stronger endorsement of more conventional male roles. A recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology showed that many users believed that steroids used in moderation were safe.

AAS have been used by men and women in many different kinds of professional sports to attain a competitive edge or to assist in recovery from injury. These sports include bodybuilding, weightlifting, shot put and other track and field, cycling, baseball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, boxing, football, and cricket. Such use is prohibited by the rules of the governing bodies of most sports. AAS use occurs among adolescents, especially by those participating in competitive sports. It has been suggested that the prevalence of use among high-school students in the U.S. may be as high as 2.7%. Male students used AAS more frequently than female students and, on average, those that participated in sports used steroids more often than those that did not.