The stigma of anabolic steroid use

Scott Griffiths*, Stuart B. Murray, Jonathan M. Mond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about the stigma of anabolic steroid use despite clear implications for treatment-seekers and for public policy development. We investigated the predictors of steroid stigma and contextualized the results by comparing steroids with marijuana. Undergraduates (N = 304) completed measures of drug stigma, exposure to drug users, and history of drug use. Participants stigmatized steroid use more than marijuana use-a very large effect. Participants reported less exposure to steroid users. Nevertheless, 15% of participants reported having a steroid-using friend. History of drug use, but not exposure to steroid users, predicted lower steroid stigma. Drug use and exposure both predicted lower marijuana use stigma. The amount of stigma expressed toward steroids is commensurate with that of "hard" drugs, such as heroin, likely constituting a formidable barrier to treatment. The public's difficulty empathizing with male body image insecurities may partially explain why exposure to steroid users did not predict lower stigmatization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • anabolic steroids
  • illicit drug stigma
  • illicit drugs
  • marijuana
  • marijuana stigma
  • steroid stigma
  • steroids
  • substances stigma


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