Trends in non-medical use of anabolic steroids by U.S. college students: Results from four national surveys

Sean Esteban McCabe, Kirk J. Brower, Brady T. West, Toben F. Nelson, Henry Wechsler

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93 Scopus citations


This study assessed the prevalence, trends, and student- and college-level characteristics associated with the non-medical use of anabolic steroids (NMAS) among U.S. college students. Data were collected through self-administered mail surveys, from 15,282, 14,428, 13,953, and 10,904 randomly selected college students at the same 119 nationally representative colleges in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001, respectively. The prevalence of lifetime, past-year and past-month NMAS was 1% or less and generally did not change significantly between 1993 and 2001, with one exception: past-year NMAS increased significantly among men from 1993 (0.36%) to 2001 (0.90%). Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that lifetime and past-year NMAS were associated with student-level characteristics such as being male and participation in intercollegiate athletics. Lifetime and past-year NMAS were also positively associated with several risky behaviors, including cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, drinking and driving, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorders. Nearly 7 out of every 10 lifetime non-medical users of anabolic steroids met past-year criteria for a DSM-IV alcohol use disorder. Although the overall prevalence of NMAS remained low between 1993 and 2001, findings suggest that continued monitoring is necessary because male student-athletes are at heightened risk for NMAS and this behavior is associated with a wide range of risky health behaviors. The characteristics associated with NMAS have important implications for future practice and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 8 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The College Alcohol Study data were collected under research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (PI: Henry Wechsler). The development of this manuscript was supported by a research grant DA019492 (PI: Sean Esteban McCabe) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Anabolic steroids
  • College students
  • Substance abuse

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