The new form of drug abuse
Once upon a time bodybuilding was about lifting weights, good nutrition, and attaining good muscular symetry and form. Nowadays it's just another form of drug abuse.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has a new article highlighting prescription drug abuse among gym users (see PDF).
Anabolic steroids are a class of hormones that promote muscle and bone growth. The drugs have androgenic and anabolic effects and are self-administered via intramuscular injection.
Mr Universe (1948)
Ronnie Coleman (2005)
The following points outline just how dangerous recreational bodybuilding has become:
* Despite being a controlled drug, current estimates indicate there are as many 3 million steroid users in the USA.
* In the UK most steroid users are non-competitive recreational bodybuilders using the drugs for cosmetic purposes.
* In the USA nearly four out of five users are non-athletes who take these drugs with the sole intention of improving physical appearance.
* An 89% majority of users obtain drugs from aberrant sources, with more than 50% admitting to the use of drugs manufactured in back-street laboratories.
* Nearly 100% of steroid users experience subjective side effects.
Gym or Pharmacy?
A new survey of 200 UK gym users found significant increase in drug use. The following drugs were being used (the percentage indicates the proportion of people surveyed who were actively using the drug):
* diuretics (10%)
* thyroxine (10%)
* insulin (14%)
* clenbuterol (21%)
* tamoxifen (22%)
* human chorionic gonadotrophin (11%)
* growth hormone (24%)
* ephedrine (44%)
Tamoxifen is a prescription drug used for treating breast cancer. Male bodybuilders are using the drug in an attempt to reverse or prevent breast development.
The lead researcher called the bodybuilders 'bigorexics'
"Sufferers of negative or heightened body image issues will go to extremes to meet their desired goals and doctors need to be more aware of the efforts 'bigorexics' will go to." (via bbc)
Bigorexia has also been called The Adonis Complex. Eating disorder site ANRED even includes information on bigorexia - calling it muscle dysmorphic disorder.
The Pressure to Conform
I once thought bodybuilding was about health and vitality. It seems more like a body image obsession combined with a cocktail of drugs. From a male perspective - the pressure is strong. The bulked and ripped male physiques that grace the magazine covers always catch my eye.
I walk away feeling slightly more scrawnier and just a bit more flabbier.