Use of Multiple Drugs among Adolescents Who Use Anabolic Steroids

Robert H. Durant, Vaughn I. Rickert, Carolyn Seymore Ashworth, Cheryl L Newman, Gregory Slavens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Background: Because adolescent users of anabolic steroids are concerned with increasing muscle size and strength, they may be unique among substance users and unlikely to use other drugs. Alternatively, if the factors that cause the use of anabolic steroids are similar to those associated with the use of other substances, adolescents who use anabolic steroids would be expected to report use of other drugs as well. Methods: We administered a questionnaire based on the 1989 Secondary School Health Risk Survey and the 1990 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to 1881 students enrolled in compulsory health-science classes (mean [±SD] age, 14.9 ±1.0 years) in the Richmond County, Georgia, school system. Results: A higher percentage of boys (6.5 percent) than girls (1.9 percent, P ≤ 0.001) reported using anabolic steroids without a doctor's prescription. Among ninth-grade students, 5.4 percent of boys and 1.5 percent of girls reported using anabolic steroids (P ≤ 0.001). Among users of anabolic steroids, 25 percent reported sharing needles to inject drugs. The frequency of anabolic-steroid use was significantly (P<0.001) associated with the frequency of use in the previous 30 days of cocaine (r = 0.44), injectable drugs, alcohol (r = 0.23), marijuana (r = 0.42), cigarettes (r = 0.25), and smokeless tobacco (r = 0.40). On the basis of multiple regression analysis, the use of marijuana, shared needles, smokeless tobacco, and cocaine accounted for 33 percent of the variation in anabolic-steroid use among the ninth-grade students. Conclusions: In our study, adolescent users of anabolic steroids were likely to use other drugs as well, and many were sharing needles., It is estimated that 1 million people in the United States are spending more than $100 million a year on black-market anabolic steroids13. Habitual use of anabolic steroids to enhance muscle size for cosmetic reasons and to improve strength and endurance for competitive purposes is increasing4. Some 250,000 U.S. high-school seniors have used anabolic steroids, and the use of anabolic steroids by adolescents is increasing310. Five to 11.1 percent of males and as many as 2.5 percent of females surveyed have used anabolic steroids4,10. Adolescents who use these substances most frequently are apt…

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-926
Number of pages5
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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