Ever wondered if steroids are really that bad while you were repeating the same exercises over and over again, hoping to wake up one day inhabiting a ripped body? If you reached for your phone and turned to Google, as most of us are guilty of, you’ve probably hit a wall. Steroid statistics are scarce because these substances are illegal in some parts of the world, but at the same time, they can be bought and used freely in others.
This article will present you with different facts about who (mis)uses steroids and why. We’ll also try to take a comprehensive look at the available data about the abuse of anabolic steroids, their effects, side effects, and consequences.
Top 10 Warm-Up Steroid Stats
- Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) were first synthesized in the 1930s.
- Users of AAS are predominantly male.
- 25% of AAS users develop an addiction.
- Administered to critically ill COVID-19 patients, steroids reduce the risk of death by 20%.
- AAS addicts need the same structured treatment as people with problems related to other drugs.
- 99.2% of steroid users in the US report experiencing side effects.
- Steroid users are three times more likely to die prematurely.
- All anabolic steroids come with serious side effects and may cause significant health problems.
- The majority of steroid users rely on themselves to get and administer anabolics.
- Steroid misuse among women is on the rise, especially among teenagers.
Information on Steroids to Keep in Mind
1. There are two main types, and they already exist in our bodies.
Steroids are essentially hormones—like the ones we have in our bodies to help us develop and function normally. What differentiates them are chemicals we use to boost their performance.
Two main types of steroids are corticosteroids and anabolics (anabolic-androgenic steroids—AAS). Corticosteroids react to inflammations and combat them swiftly. On the other hand, anabolics are man-made variations of testosterone that are used to help people who lost muscle mass due to other health conditions. Because of this property, they are used illegally by professional sports players in extreme doses, up to 100 times higher than those prescribed for people with actual health issues.
2. Anabolic-androgenic steroids were first synthesized in the 1930s.
(National Institute on Drug Abuse, Steroid Cycles)
Initially used to treat depression, anabolics didn’t enter the sports world until the 1954 Olympic Games when Russian weightlifters used synthesized testosterone to enhance their performance.
This practice entered the general population in the 1980s, and anabolic pills became so wide-spread by 1990 that the US Congress was forced to pass the Anabolic Steroid Act to combat the illegal traffic. In 2004, America went one step further and banned over-the-counter steroids completely.
Steroids are still legal and unregulated in countries like Russia, India, Mexico, and Thailand.
3. All anabolic steroids come with serious side effects and may cause significant health problems.
Due to their illegal nature, there are no reliable numbers to help us pinpoint the most used steroid out there. However, according to the available fitness industry statistics, these are the most popular steroids:
- Dianabol has been one of the best-known performance enhancers for a long time, as it boosts muscle growth and increases testosterone levels in the organism. It managed to stay popular for decades, despite potentially causing infertility, hair loss, and liver damage.
- Anadrol is known for its relatively low price and quick results. However, it works on the principle of water retention, so its users typically lose over 50% of the gained weight once they stop taking it.
- Anavar is generally considered a ‘women’s steroid’ because they tolerate it better than other performance enhancers. According to most steroid statistics, it has minimal side effects, potentially causing acne, hair loss, and depression.
- Clenbuterol is actually a stimulant, but it does share some properties with steroids. It is used to increase muscle mass and can be extremely dangerous—it can cause issues ranging from headaches and nausea to insomnia and heart failure.
- Deca-Durabolin has been popular among men since the 70s and is primarily used for building mass. Side effects include erectile dysfunction, liver problems, depression, heart failure, stroke, and even cancer.
4. Majority of steroid users rely on themselves to get and administer anabolics.
According to this year’s steroid use statistics, the majority of AAS users self-inject the steroid of their choosing, which makes it difficult to accurately estimate the number of addicts and steroid users. On top of all the risks related to the side effects, almost 13% of users admitted high-risk behavior such as sharing and/or reusing needles to administer the anabolic.
5. Steroid misuse among women is on the rise, especially among teenagers.
(Journal of Steroids & Hormonal Science, RecoveryVillage, Muscleandfitness)
Although steroids are mostly based on testosterone, there are steroids for women, more suitable for female bodies. This includes Stanozolol and the so-called ‘’girl steroid’’ Oxandrolone.
CDC’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report indicates that 1 out of 42 girls in the US at some point took anabolic steroids, often motivated by the desire to appear more attractive. These numbers may not seem so surprising when we also consider the fact that 47% of official US weightlifting athletes are female.
6. The use of anabolic steroids is prohibited in all sports worldwide.
(WADA, WADA Report, VeryWellFit)
The World Anti-Doping Agency keeps several lists of prohibited agents, and anabolic steroids found their place on the Prohibited at All Times list, which contains over 70 variations of AAS. The work of WADA is supported by all major sports institutions (Olympic Committee, UNESCO, FIFA…) and all recognized international and national sports federations (NFL, NBA, NHL…).
The latest available WADA performance enhancing drugs statistics show a decrease in the number of AAFs (Adverse Analytical Findings, i.e., positive tests) from 1.81% of the tested samples in 2016, to 1.48% in 2017.
Unofficial data indicates that the most commonly used steroids and substances in professional sports are Androstenedione, Primobolan, Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), Clenbuterol, and DHEA.
7. Users of AAS are predominantly male.
Research shows that 1% to 5% of people in western countries have used anabolic steroids at least once in their life. On the global level, the lifetime prevalence of steroid abuse seems to be 6.4% for men and 1.6% for women. For reference, it is estimated that 43.8% of people who regularly go to the gym use some kind of nutrition supplements to improve their results.
Illicit use of steroids is mostly connected to improved muscle gain and overall body performance. Despite popular stereotypes, bodybuilders are not the prevalent users of anabolic steroids—doping can also be found in athletics, football, and even speed skating.
8. Anabolic steroids lead to performance enhancement within 10 weeks.
A study by Bhasin and colleagues has shown that even men who don’t get any physical exercise but take testosterone can gain almost two times more muscle mass than men who work out regularly within the same time frame. The same study also examined short-term effects of anabolic steroids on men who used testosterone and hit the gym regularly, and it recorded average gains of 6.1 kg over a 10-week period.
9. Steroids shown to reduce the death rates of critically ill COVID-19 patients by 20%.
Small-scale research has shown that COVID-19 patients treated with corticosteroids (i.e., hydrocortisone and methylprednisolone) had a survival rate of 68%, compared to the 60% rate of the patients whose treatment didn’t include steroids.
10. AAS users are perceived as less desirable for lasting relationships.
(Journal of Substance Use)
Although increasing physical attractiveness is a major reason behind AAS misuse, the latest steroid statistics show that women find men who don’t use steroids almost 50% more suitable for meaningful, long-term relationships than those who do.
However, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two groups with regard to how attractive and how suitable for short-term relationships their members are perceived to be.
Steroid Abuse Statistics
11. 25% of AAS users develop an addiction.
Contrary to the popular belief that only professional athletes use steroids, recent years have shown a rise in the illegal use of steroids among teenagers and non-professionals who aim to boost their muscular gain. It is estimated that between 2.9 and 4 million Americans used anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs at some point, and that about 1 million developed steroid addictions.
12. AAS addicts need the same structured treatment as people with other drug problems.
(National Institute of Health, Addiction Center)
Although 56% of users never seek treatment for using them because they are not considered a “typical drug” such as heroin, anabolics dependence has to be treated like any other addiction.
Steroid addiction treatment may last between a month and three months and include a medically assisted detox during which the patient experiences all the symptoms of drug withdrawal, nausea, weakness body aches, etc.
13. Steroid users are three times more likely to die prematurely.
(Wiley Online Library)
While data shows that regular exercise can lower the chances of premature death by 30%, that doesn’t really apply to people who are abusing steroids while exercising.
According to recent research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine related to steroid death statistics, the death rate among men who used anabolics was 1.3%. In comparison, the death rate in the control group was only 0.3%. Furthermore, data pointed out that AAS users were admitted to hospitals twice as often due to various health complications.
14. Almost 50% of professional athletes use some kind of performance enhancing drugs.
When it comes to performance enhancing drugs in sport, statistics show a decrease in the use of anabolic steroids, with just 2% of positive tests among high-class athletes in competitions worldwide.
However, these tests can’t detect everything. Anonymous surveys of athletes taking part in two major competitions showed that 43.6% of participants of one event and 57.1% of the other have resorted to doping during the previous year.
15. NBA suspensions over performance enhancing drugs are on the rise.
Only 10 NBA players have officially tested positive for illicit steroid abuse before the start of the season 2019/2020, when three new offenders were caught within the very first month.
Given that the league has more than 450 players, the official numbers don’t really seem convincing. They are especially suspicious if you consider the different statements of former players and coaches who claimed that the majority of players use AAS.
16. NFL athletes pay up to $4 million in fines over PED use.
The NFL has strict rules regarding football players using performance enhancing drugs, and statistics show that the NFL suspended 42 players in 2019 based on PED and illegal drugs use, collecting millions in fines. For instance, player Taylor Lewan paid a fine of $3,929,411.75 for testing positive on AAS.
Data for the initial months of 2020 shows 11 suspended players and $1,867,553 in fines.
17. Performance enhancing drugs statistics show that soccer players refrain from AAS.
When it comes to soccer, FIFA rules are clear on all players being subjected to both blood and urine tests. They even conducted worldwide research in 2016 and tested over 33,000 players, which is more than 50% of the registered soccer players in the world. There were only 97 positive results (0.29%).
18. MLB keeps the same rate of AAS-related sanctions in recent years.
(Wtop, Houston Chronicle, Baseball reference)
When it comes to baseball players using performance enhancing drugs, statistics show that out of the 600 players being tested several times each year, in the past 2 years MLB only sanctioned 16 players, 8 in 2018 and 8 in 2019.
Players receive an automatic suspension in case of testing positive for anabolic steroids, ranging from 50 games for the first infraction to a lifetime ban for the third.
19. High school athletes believe anabolic steroids are crucial for success.
Data shows that only 20% of American high schools test their athletes for commonly used steroids. This number is somewhat surprising since surveys show that 1 in 5 students believe that using AAS is the only way to go professional and that 25% believe that not using anabolic steroids prevents advancement.
20. 99.2% of steroid users in the US report experiencing side effects.
Although the risk percentages for individual side effects may seem relatively low, it rarely takes long for at least one of them to manifest. Performance enhancing drugs health risks statistics mention prostate complications with 18%, followed by skin problems and acne 12%, gingivitis 9%, myalgia 6%, and even prostate carcinoma with up to 3%.
All anabolics have been proven to affect mental health if used excessively. They are capable of causing major mood disorders, mood swings, and depression, but also violence and aggression.
Are steroids addictive?
Steroids are addictive. The National Institute of Drug Abuse recognizes AAS misuse as an addiction with an undetermined number of abusers. Quitting steroids abruptly leads to withdrawal symptoms just like quitting street drugs and alcohol: mood swings, cravings, restlessness, and even depression.
What steroids are made of?
Anabolic steroids are usually either synthesized versions of testosterone or combinations of natural testosterone and chemicals meant to boost its effects.
(VA, National Institute on Drug Abuse)
How many people use steroids?
The exact number of people who use steroids remains unknown, as these substances are still unregulated in some parts of the world. Estimates are that AAS abuse ranges between 1% and 5% in western countries.
This would be pretty much all there is when it comes to AAS use and abuse. If you are thinking of reaching for them for whatever reason, please reread our text and don’t take it lightly. Despite still being legal in some parts of the world, steroid statistics make it clear that misuse of anabolic steroids can have devastating effects on your health.
- Addiction Center
- Baseball reference
- Houston Chronicle
- Journal of Steroids & Hormonal Science
- Journal of Substance Use
- Medical Express
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Recovery Village
- Springer Link
- Steroid Cycles
- WADA Report
- Wiley Online Library