intellectual vanities… about close to everything

Hormon Cows: Adult Steroid Users Seek Muscles, Not Medals

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The majority of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users are not cheating athletes or risk-taking teenagers. According to a recent survey, containing the largest sample to date the typical male user is about 30 years old, well-educated, and earning an above-average income in a white-collar occupation. The majority did not use steroids during adolescence and were not motivated by athletic competition or sports performance.

The study, conducted by a collaboration of researchers from around the country coordinated by Jason Cohen, Psy.D. candidate, used a web-based survey of nearly 2,000 US males. Whereas athletes are tempted to take anabolic steroids to improve sports performance, the study suggests that physical self-improvement motivates the unrecognized majority of non-medical AAS users who particularly want to increase muscle mass, strength, and physical attractiveness. Other significant but less highly ranked factors included increased confidence, decreased fat, improved mood and attraction of sexual partners.

Although often considered similar to abusers of narcotics and other illicit drugs (e.g., heroin or cocaine), non-medical AAS users are remarkably different. These users follow carefully planned drug regimens in conjunction with a healthy diet, ancillary drugs and exercise. As opposed to the spontaneous and haphazard approach seen in abusers of psychotropic drugs, everything is strategically planned to maximize benefits and minimize harm. “This is simply not a style or pattern of use we typically see when we examine substance abuse” said Jack Darkes, Ph.D., one of the authors. “The notions of spontaneous drug seeking and loss of control do not apply to the vast majority of AAS users,” added co-author Daniel Gwartney, M.D.

“These findings question commonly held views of typical AAS users and their underlying motivations,” said Rick Collins, one of the study’s authors. “The focus on ‘cheating’ athletes and at risk youth has led to irrelevant policy as it relates to the predominant group of non-medical AAS users. 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.”

The study concludes that these AAS users are a driven and ambitious group dedicated to gym attendance, diet, occupational goals and educational attainment. “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,” said Collins. “Effective public policy should begin by accurately identifying who’s using steroids and why. We hope our research – the largest adult survey of non-medical AAS use we know of – is a significant step forward in that direction.”

The results of this study are not surprising, if one looks at non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (NMAAS) use as a male type of a cinderella-syndrome. Sure, not all AAS-users are facing dysmorphophobia, but neither are they very far from it. After toying with pincesses/heroes of the Disney-type through internalisation, there is a risk of developping void personality categories into which culturally determined pseudovalues like wealth, anorectically slim looks, tom-of-finland-bodies or others are being integrated. As stated in other place: the firmer that replacement of true personality values, the higher the likeliness of a clash between that personality and a reality, where barby-/ken-surfaces will not suffice as standards of value decision, neither about oneself, nor about others.

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Oct 11;4(1):12 [Epub ahead of print]

A league of their own: demographics, motivations and patterns of use of 1,955 male adult non-medical anabolic steroid users in the United States.

Cohen J, Collins R, Darkes J, Gwartney D.

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Rule violations among elite-level sports competitors and tragedies among adolescents have largely defined the issue of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (NMAAS) use for the public and policy makers. However, the predominant and oft-ignored segment of the NMAAS community exists in the general population that is neither participating in competitive sports nor adolescent. A clearer profile of NMAAS users within the general population is an initial step in developing a full understanding of NMAAS use and devising appropriate policy and interventions. This survey sought to provide a more comprehensive profile of NMAAS users by accessing a large sample of user respondents from around the United States. METHODS: U.S.-based male NMAAS users (n=1955) were recruited from various Internet websites dedicated to resistance training activities and use of ergogenic substances, mass emails, and print media to participate in a 291-item web-based survey. The Internet was utilized to provide a large and geographically diverse sample with the greatest degree of anonymity to facilitate participation. RESULTS: The majority of respondents did not initiate AAS use during adolescence and their NMAAS use was not motivated by athletics. The typical user was a Caucasian, highly-educated, gainfully employed professional approximately 30 years of age, who was earning an above-average income, was not active in organized sports, and whose use was motivated by increases in skeletal muscle mass, strength, and physical attractiveness. These findings question commonly held views of the typical NMAAS user and the associated underlying motivations. CONCLUSION: The focus on “cheating” athletes and at risk youth has led to ineffective policy as it relates to the predominant group of NMAAS users. Effective policy, prevention or intervention should address the target population(s) and their reasons for use while utilizing their desire for responsible use and education.

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