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J Health Psychol. 2000 Jul;5(4):566-71. doi: 10.1177/135910530000500413.

Motivations for Anabolic Steroid use Among Bodybuilders.

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Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.


Steroid use is increasing, in parallel with rising concerns about body image. This study aimed to uncover bodybuilders' motivations for using steroids using 135 questionnaires completed by readers of two bodybuilding magazines. The analyses reveal a polarization of beliefs about steroids between users and non-users. Steroid users were less likely to be concerned about the physical side effects, and many believed that steroids are not harmful in moderation, and that only 'ignorant people' criticize steroid use. Their main motivations for using steroids were: wanting to excel at competitive bodybuilding; wanting to be more muscular; and feelings of enhanced confidence. The fact that steroid users in the sample were 'stacking' dangerously high levels of steroids (up to 15 steroids at a time) reveals the need for a detailed understanding of the motivations for steroid use in order to inform the development of effective harm minimization messages.


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