How many High School Athletes are using Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic Steroids are readily available on the black market, and with the sports requirements of high school athletes increasing, it's no surprise some end up using Steroids.

Top 8 Anabolic Steroids Statistics

  1. According to PubMed, up to 12% of male high school athletes have tried anabolic steroids.
  2. The same study also reports that 3% of female high school athletes reported steroid use.
  3. In 2013, 11% of teens used synthetic growth hormones.
  4. 375,000 young male athletes have tried performance-enhancing drugs.
  5. 175,000 young female high school athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs.
  6. 85% of anabolic steroids were procured on the black market
  7. The average age of steroid use in high school sports is 17 yo.
  8. 1% of 8th graders have reported steroid use.

Chapter 1: High School Anabolic Steroids Use

It’s one of the unfortunate aspects of athletic activity, but anabolic steroid use is more common than you’d like to think among high school student-athletes. Both female and male high school students have experimented with steroids and PEDs to boost their athletic performance.

1. 3% of high school female athletes have tried PEDs

A study published in PubMed showed that when it comes to using performance-enhancing drugs, 12% of boys have tried them. The number is a little smaller among girls, with a 3% steroid use rate. (1)

2. 550, 000 high school US high school athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs

According to the FDA, a whopping 375,000 high schoolboys have tried performance-enhancing drugs at one time or another. 175,000 high school girls have also experimented by using a performance-enhancing drug.

3. 85% of steroids used by high school athletes are bought on the black market

Where are these kids getting access to anabolic steroids? Well, it’s no surprise that 85% of steroids are purchased via the black market. The FDA has taken steps to shut down illegal online sellers, all in an attempt to protect our kids from the adverse effects of steroid abuse.

4. The average age of high school athletes using steroids is 17 yo

According to a study titled, “The prevalence Of Anabolic Steroid Use By Male and Female Adolescents,” the average age of substance abuse is 17 years old. (2)

5. 11% of high school athletes have tried growth hormones

A study titled “Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Adolescence,” which was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that 11% of all high school athletes have tried a synthetic human growth hormone. (3)

Chapter 2: Drug Use, Colleges, and Adolescents

In college, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on student-athletes to not only keep up their grades but also their athletic performance. This pressure comes in many forms, with the most prevalent being the fear of losing their athletic scholarship. Many students feel compelled to do “whatever it takes” to succeed, including taking steroids.

1. 50% of high school athletes felt pressure to use steroids

The vast majority of high school sports students who tried anabolic steroids said they did so because they felt pressure to attain and or maintain their athletic scholarships. Young students are impressionable, and report they want to impress recruiters, and also ease the financial burden on their parents. (4)

2. More than 50% of adolescent athletes steroid users are unaware of the adverse side effects

Many athletes have reported they were unaware of the long-term serious side effects that accompany steroid abuse. Some of the detrimental effects reported by the CDC are high blood pressure, excess facial and body hair, irregular hormone levels, and cardiovascular disease.

3. 8% of Australian teen athletes have already tried PEDs

A survey conducted by the University of Canberra amazingly found that 8% of Australian teen athletes had already experimented with anabolic androgenic steroids. (5)

4. Australian teens believe 30% of pro athletes are using steroids

The same University of Canberra study also found that, not surprisingly, these same teen athletes thought that close to 30% of Australian professional athletes were taking steroids.

Chapter 3: Supplements and High School Sports

An alarming statistic is that even when informed of the incredibly serious adverse effects of steroids, most high school students said they’d still be willing to take them if it meant improving their performance. Many students also believe that most professional athletes they admire are also taking steroids.

1. The FDA says, 80% of bodybuilding supplement brand labels are misleading

A study found the vast majority of performance-enhancing supplements
have little to no FDA oversight. Many supplement brands make outlandish claims which cannot be verified and subsequently prove harmful to consumers, particularly our young athletes. (6)

2. 6.2% of high school students use stimulants and steroids

According to a 2015 study published in PubMed, non-medical use of amphetamines among high school students was 6.2%. This is a worrying figure as steroid usage can lead to adverse effects like heart attack, insomnia, panic attacks, psychosis, and depression. (7)

3. College athletes and stimulant, steroid abuse has risen three-fold

Steroid abuse among college athletes has increased 3-fold in recent years, which does not bode well for the health of our next generation.

4. 98% of teens would use steroids if they could get away with it

A survey of young Olympic athletes found that 98% of them would use performance-enhancing drugs if they knew they could get away with it. Moreover, when presented with the information that they may die from steroid abuse, 61% said they would still take them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percent of high school students use anabolic steroids?

In the US, between 1% and 10% of high school sports boys have reported anabolic steroid usage. 3% of high school athletes (girls) have reported steroid use. Male high school athletes playing football, weightlifting, and wrestling report steroid use.

Do they test for anabolic steroids in high school?

Roughly 20% of high schools in America have drug tests. A study published by the University of Pennsylvania found that student-athletes are rarely tested for performance-enhancing drugs. (8)

What can performance-enhancing drugs do to a 15-year-old?

Serious adverse effects from anabolic steroid use can lead to menstrual irregularities among girls and acne in both boys and girl student-athletes. Breast development, aggressive behavior, and mood swings are common negative effects. (9)

How does steroid abuse affect behavior?

Student-athletes who use anabolic androgenic steroids report mood swings. A young athlete’s ability may also be affected along with other health risks like early breast development and high blood pressure.

How do I know if my son is taking anabolic steroids?

Signs such as facial and body hair, mood swings, and anger may manifest while taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Are steroids ok for high school students?

Whether taking legal or illegal anabolic steroids they can cause serious side effects for high school athletes. No athlete should ever risk taking any performance-enhancing drugs. (10)

What ages do teen athletes use steroids?

Steroid use has been reported in high school athletes with boys making up 12% of steroid abuse and girls comprising 3%,

Is it hard to get off anabolic steroids?

Yes. anabolic steroids are incredibly difficult to withdraw from and many have the same symptoms you would see with other drug use. The most common withdrawal symptoms are heart and liver abnormalities, headaches, and mood swings. (11)

How common is steroid abuse in high school?

A study published in JAMA claimed that 4.4% of high school athletes had used anabolic steroids. according to the study, 6.5% were boys while 2.5% were girls. (12)

Do anabolic steroids delay puberty?

Yes. Anabolic steroid usage can affect hormone levels which can delay puberty. If you haven’t started puberty by the age of 14 you should seek the advice of local healthcare providers.

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White ND, Noeun J. Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Adolescence. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Nov 29;11(2):122-124. doi: 10.1177/1559827616680593. PMID: 30202322; PMCID: PMC6125030.

Terney R, McLain LG. The Use of Anabolic Steroids in High School Students. Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(1):99–103. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150250111046

White ND, Noeun J. Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Adolescence. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Nov 29;11(2):122-124. doi: 10.1177/1559827616680593. PMID: 30202322; PMCID: PMC6125030.

White ND, Noeun J. Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Adolescence. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Nov 29;11(2):122-124. doi: 10.1177/1559827616680593. PMID: 30202322; PMCID: PMC6125030.


Brenton Barker

Brenton Barker | Writer

Brenton is a highly qualified sports coach with over 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. With a degree in sports coaching and experience in prominent positions, including Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute and Manager & Head Coach to Australia's Governing Sporting Body. Currently, he consults with several professional athletes and sporting organizations, sharing his expertise to help them reach their full potential.

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