Words by JON CLARKE
Back in July, the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that steroids are the only drug that have quadrupled in use over the last year. The highest increase came in the 16-24 year-old age group, as an extra 19,000 people decided to try getting ‘juiced’ up.
But why are people willing to turn a blind eye to the terrible risks in order to achieve their ‘ideal’ body image? In this piece we take a look at what motivates the average person to take such substances, along with a recent case study that shows the devastating impact of abusing them.
Blame Batman, Love Island and Essex
Now here’s a stat: there have been more superhero movies produced in the last six years than the previous sixty years combined. The movie genre has exploded and there’s no less than 24 superhero movies planned for release within the next four years.
Why does this matter?
Well it means that mainstream media will be flooded with adverts and promotions for them. Shops will be full of toys and posters. Cinemas will have 60ft HD footage of toned torsos wrapped in tight lycra. Enough to brainwash a nation into what the ideal physique should look like, don’t you think?
Ideal man: Superman has been rocking abs since the 1940s.
On top of this, we’ve got reality shows like Love Island, Big Brother and The Only Way is Essex showing off tanned, muscular and inconceivably beautiful people - as if it’s the norm.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, currently has 94.7 million Instagram followers. That is huge. He’s massively influential, both through wrestling and Hollywood, and there are rumours that he may even run for president in the future. What a world that would be.
As wholesome and decent a guy The Rock is, his sensational physique and growing social media following is bound to be perpetuating the use of steroids in younger people.
The ‘golden age’ of bodybuilding - which admittedly happened way back in the 1970s - included stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno (who of course played the Incredible Hulk) and Franco Columbo. And, while bodybuilding back then was still seen as alternative and new, as lifestyles changed and popularity for the sport increased, so did the idolisation of these stars.
And what did this idolisation lead to? Emulation.
Programmes like 'TOWIE' perpetuate an ideal, putting pressure on men to look the same.
The Rich Piana story
Rich Piana, a bodybuilder from Florida, is one such person that sought to be like his idols. Having won Mr. California in 1998, Piana built himself into a successful online personality with over 1.3 million instagram followers and a successful nutrition company, 5% Nutrition. In 2014, Piana admitted he used steroids over the course of 25 years, And specifically stated that everyone should be aware that using steroids will do damage to their body.
Rich Piana paid the ultimate price for steroid abuse.
In another video in 2016 he backed up his decision but advised viewers not to use the drugs, stating, "If you have the choice to do steroids or stay natural, stay natural. There's no reason to do steroids. You're only hurting your body and hurting yourself."
In August, Rich Piana died. Having suffered a heart attack, suspectedly induced by steroid abuse, Piana banged his head in falling and entered a coma for two weeks before passing away. He was just 45 years old.
So should you use steroids?
There’s plenty of articles out there outlining the benefits and risks of using them, so just make sure you do your research. We don’t want to be those people wagging a finger in your face, telling you to do one thing or another, as everyone has their own goals when it comes to physical ambitions.
If you’d like to learn more about the risks of using steroids, here’s some insightful sources of information, provided by reputable people:
If you’d like to learn more about the risks of using steroids, here’s some insightful sources of information, provided by some of the most reputable institutes out there: