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Anabolic Steroid Use in Weightlifters and Bodybuilders: An Internet Survey of Drug Utilization

Perry, Paul J PhD; Lund, Brian C PharmD, MS; Deninger, Michael J PhD; Kutscher, Eric C PharmD; Schneider, Justin PharmD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2005 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - pp 326-330
Original Research

Purpose: Dietary supplements and ergogenic agents, including anabolic steroids, are common components of present-day bodybuilder and weightlifter training regimens. Prior reports of anabolic steroid use suggest polypharmacy and high doses of injectable agents.

Hypothesis: To provide an updated description of anabolic steroid regimens employed by weightlifters and bodybuilders and to determine the extent to which anabolic steroid-associated behaviors are consistent with substance dependence.

Study Design: Web-based survey.

Methods: Links to the Web-based survey instrument were established from leading bodybuilding and fitness web pages. The questionnaire included demographic information, anabolic drug use history, adverse effects, information sources, and steroid use behavior consistent with criteria for a substance dependence disorder.

Results: A total of 207 subjects provided a detailed anabolic steroid drug history. Steroid regimens included a mean of 3.1 agents, involved cycles ranging from 5 to 10 weeks, and often included doses 5 to 29 times greater than physiologic replacement doses. Behavior consistent with a substance dependence disorder was endorsed by 33% of respondents.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that anabolic steroid use among weightlifters and bodybuilders continues, generally involving multiple steroids and additional dietary supplementary agents. The adverse effects, polypharmacy, large dosages, and risk of substance abuse are all major health care concerns that require further study.

Clinical Relevance: The survey findings provide sports medicine practitioners a reasonable estimate of the expected drug history among bodybuilders and weightlifters for the use of performance-enhancing agents.

From the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, and the College of Pharmacy, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

Received for publication March 2005; accepted July 2005.

Reprints: Paul J. Perry, PhD, S-415 Pharmacy Bldg., University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1112 (e-mail: paul-perry@uiowa.edu).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.