Bigger, Stronger, Faster By Chris Bell

1885 words - 8 pages

For Chris Bell and his two brothers, nicknamed Smelly and Mad Dog, who grew up with not so ideal bodies, mega-men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone were heroes. The Bells wanted the enormous, muscular physiques that they saw in these guys and in the muscle and fitness magazines, and would stop at nothing to reach that goal. This dream of having a larger than life strength and muscle mass however, eventually led the brothers to make a decision: whether to use steroids or not (Bell). When it comes to the issue of steroid use in today’s society, most people will initially think about its use in sports, recalling large controversies over the drugs like the cases of major leaguers Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. Not as well known; however, is the recreational use of steroids, outside of the realm of organized sports. This faction of steroid use is much harder to define. It is much easier to see why a professional athlete would want to use steroids: for the money, glory, and fame, etc, but why people in gyms and health clubs across the country are “juicing up” is not as clear. Recreational steroid users often argue that the benefits outweigh the negative aspects of steroids, and that taking steroids is “just as American as apple pie,” but many doctors, experts, politicians, and other people disagree. So how widespread is the use of steroids in gyms across the country? And what makes people go to such drastic measures to achieve the physique they desire despite the health and legality risks?
There is no precise number that will tell us the amount of steroid users in the United States today. In 1988, David L. Black, director of the Athletic Drug Testing Laboratory at Vanderbilt University estimated the number to be around 1 million users (Marshall 242). Another study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 1,084,000 Americans, 0.5% of the adult population admitted using steroids (Steroids). Due to the rise in popularity of weight lifting and bodybuilding in recent years, in addition to easier access to steroids, it is likely that the number has risen substantially. It is also well known that the vast majority of steroid use in the United States is not found among professional or college athletes, but by recreational weight lifters and body builders, more commonly referred to as “gym rats,” in local gyms and health clubs across the country.
Much of the focus when it comes to researching steroid use in the U.S. focuses mainly on specific groups such as adolescent, college, professional, and Olympic athletes. This research, however, almost entirely ignores the largest group of steroid users (Petrocelli 1191). Only about 15% of steroid use is by athletes. This leaves the remaining percentage to recreational use to amateur weight lifters and body builders; “gym rats” who use steroids solely for cosmetic reasons (Bell). NIDA has found that steroid use is most prevalent by males between the ages of 19 and...

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