The rapid increase in the number of anabolic steroid users visiting need and syringe programs is partly due to young people trying to become more popular in their “Instagram life” according to a spokesperson for the Ana Liffey Drug Project in Limerick, Ireland. These steroid-using Instagramers enjoy sharing selfies on Instagram and hopes that an improve physique will attract more “likes” and “followers”.
Rachel O’Donoghue, the team leader for the Ana Liffey Drug Project Needle & Syringe Programme, recently described how the Instagramers on steroids are disparaged by more serious athletes, bodybuilders and powerlifters.
“They would talk as well to us about younger people … and there is that whole image – that ‘Instagram life’ – a lot of the guys who are involved in the competitions would give out about people that are purely there for taking pictures,” said O’Donoghue.
While the serious athletes use steroids as part of a goal-oriented training and nutrition program with defined performance and competition goals, many young people are motivated to go to the gym and use steroids solely for Instagrammable pictures.
Of course, Instagram can be a useful tool for fitness professionals. But not everyone is going to become Instafamous and rake in beaucoup cash as social media entrepreneurs. A few may turn to steroids because they think they can become the next Jeff Seid, Steve Cook, Ulisses Williams, Jr. or Sergi Constance with millions and millions of followers. (It should be noted that we are not suggesting that any of those Instagram celebrities used steroids to achieve their popularity.) Yet the overwhelming majority of people posting physique selfies have no such aspirations.
People have vastly different motivations for using steroids and PEDs just like they have very different reasons for going to the gym. Once upon a time, steroids may have been the domain of the serious weightlifter and athletes. That seems to be changing as some reports suggest that an ever increasing number of young people have started using steroids.
“You always had a few people that were into the power-lifting and the competitions – people that were using them a long time,” according to O’Donoghue. “Definitely, recently, we’re seeing more young people arrive for an exchange.”
Instagram is a platform that is all about showing off. Shallowness and superficiality thrive in this medium. So it is no surprise that physique and physical appearance have become a top Instagram currency. And where muscles and appearance are important, even if it is only pictures of muscles, then steroids often follow.
— AnaLiffey (@AnaLiffey) September 9, 2018