Purpose: The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) to increase muscle size and strength is widespread. Information regarding self-administered AAS used nonmedically to enhance athletic performance or improve physical appearance is sparse and poorly documented. The purpose of this study is to identify current trends in the drug-taking habits of AAS users.
Methods: An anonymous self-administered questionnaire was posted on the message boards of Internet Web sites popular among AAS users.
Results: Of the 500 AAS users who participated in the survey, 78.4% (392/500) were noncompetitive bodybuilders and nonathletes; 59.6% (298/500) of the respondents reported using at least 1000 mg of testosterone or its equivalent per week. The majority (99.2%) of AAS users (496/500) self-administer injectable AAS formulations, and up to 13% (65/500) report unsafe injection practices such as reusing needles, sharing needles, and sharing multidose vials. In addition to using AAS, 25% of users admitted to the adjuvant use of growth hormone and insulin for anabolic effect, and 99.2% (496/500) of users reported subjective side effects from AAS use.
Conclusions: This survey reveals several trends in the nonmedical use of AAS. Nearly four out of five AAS users are nonathletes who take these drugs for cosmetic reasons. AAS users in this sample are taking larger doses than previously recorded, with more than half of the respondents using a weekly AAS dose in excess of 1000 mg. The majority of steroid users self-administer AAS by intramuscular injection, and approximately 1 in 10 users report hazardous injection techniques. Polypharmacy is practiced by more than 95% of AAS users, with one in four users taking growth hormone and insulin. Nearly 100% of AAS users reported subjective side effects.