Former Gaelic football coach Ainle Ó Cairealláin acknowledges that serious bodybuilders generally know what they are doing but the vast majority of steroid users don’t.
Ainle Ó Cairealláin, an Irish strength and conditioning coach who is the founder and managing director of ACLAI Personal Training, believes that serious bodybuilders are educated and informed about the non-medical use of anabolic steroids and the corresponding side effects. Unfortunately, the majority of steroid users today do not belong to this group.
Ó Cairealláin classified steroid users into three groups: bodybuilders, elite athletes, and young males motivated solely by aesthetics. Bodybuilders and elite athletes generally know what they are doing, are knowledgeable about steroid side effects and are familiar with strategies to manage such side effects.
“The chance of a bodybuilder taking steroids is high, but there is also a high chance that they are doing it in a monitored way that’s educated and informed. Within the sporting community, they can be used for sports enhancement. This is probably the smallest demographic.
“Then there are the young males, independent of sport or bodybuilding, who are taking them for no other reason but to look a certain way. This is the most dangerous group, as the steroids are sourced from a friend or online.”
Steroids have been a part of sports and bodybuilding forever so the knowledge-base is high.
Steroids have been a part of the bodybuilding and elite sporting subcultures from the beginning. So it makes sense that these community are relatively well-informed when compared to other populations of steroid users.
On the other hand, young males with little to no interest in sport or competition are uninformed and uneducated about most aspects of steroid use. They are naive and uneducated about both the short-term and long-term consequences of steroid use.
The latter group may have a higher incidence of body image problems and self-esteem issues. They also may be more susceptible to the pressures of social media. Ó Cairealláin does not believe the increased rate of steroid use among this group is a coincidence.
Young people in this group also don’t realize that steroids can have serious short-term and long-term health consequences according to Ó Cairealláin. Furthermore, they feel pressure to live up to a certain type of physical appearance based on what they see on social media. Ó Cairealláin notes that this promotes an “unhealthy and unrealistic” value system among young people.
“Everyone has their ups and downs in life but you don’t get this picture through social media. These perfect images we see are designed to pressurize people into consuming more products. Unfortunately, it’s the people at the end of these advertising campaigns who hurt the most.”
Ó Cairealláin believes the best way to address the problem is to encourage gym owners to become more proactive. Rather than turn a blind eye to steroid use by its members, gym owners must do whatever they can to at least educate and/or discourage young people from using steroids.
Ó Cairealláin wants people to have an informed discussion about the motivations behind steroid use rather than demonizing the muscle-building drugs. Ó Cairealláin makes it clear that he does not condone illegal steroid use but recognizes the value of open and honest discussion.
— Evening Echo (@CorkEveningEcho) December 2, 2018