Dr. Thomas O’Connor, aka the Anabolic Doc, reacts to Vice News’ recent video: How Steroids Became More Popular Than Heroin.
When people think about steroid or PED use, it’s often under the umbrella of professional sports. Bodybuilders, football players, even cyclists have all been caught using banned steroid substances in the past. But the truth of the matter is that steroids have grown to become an “everyman” drug. It’s not just athletes. It’s regular folk who use them as well. This was broken down in detail with the release of Vice News’ video – ‘How Steroids Became More Popular Than Heroin.’ But how accurate are the claims made in this video? In our latest GI Exclusive, the Anabolic Doc watches and reacts with his knowledge of all things steroids.
In May 2022, Vice News released a new episode in their series News On Drugs. This particular episode focused on steroid use and how it has become a sort of epidemic across the mass population. Steroids and PEDs are a major topic of discussion in the bodybuilding world. Often times, mainstream media gloss over or misconstrue facts that niche industries – such as bodybuilding – understand in more detail because of how directly steroid use affects the industry.
That’s why there was no better expert than Dr. Thomas O’Connor, aka the Anabolic Doc, to watch and react to this recent video. The Vice video has made its rounds and gone somewhat viral with hundreds of thousands of views. What can we learn from this video and what is misunderstood? The Anabolic Doc has often bridged the gap between strength sports and the larger medical world when it comes to steroids. So his expertise in this is perfect for a reaction video. Let’s jump into it.
ABOVE: The Vice News video ‘How Steroids Became More Popular Than Heroin’ that the Anabolic Doc watched and reacted to.
The War On Drugs (Including Steroids)
The first segment of the video discusses the war on drugs and how the current action against steroids in the US is to keep it criminalized and prosecute anyone who buys or sells them not prescribed by a doctor. Much like the larger war on drugs – the Anabolic Doc finds this to be a failed war. Even worse, it prevents effective education and change to help improve our overall health. Long term steroid users are often quietly suffering – even if the substance abuse doesn’t lead to a fatality.
The Anabolic Doc agrees with the core notion of the video. Steroids are no longer just a pro athlete’s drug. It’s common place among regular folk. The doctor estimates that 15-20 million people use steroids in the US alone. This is far above the data stated in the Vice News video – which was sourced from data gathered in 2010.
With that in mind, all effort must be made to prevent steroid use as being supremely illegal and taboo. This current tactic simply makes users hide their drug use, not seek help when they need it, and get their information from flawed or nefarious sources.
The Vice News video also states that a big problem is steroids being lumped in with other “hard drugs” such as heroin. This is a mistake. It makes steroid users feel labeled as “heavy drug users” – which makes them feel like they need to keep it a secret and avoid medical guidance.
The Anabolic Doc believes that decriminalizing steroids is a big first step to helping make for a healthier society. The second step is convincing the larger medical culture that steroids should be treated differently than heroin. More education must be put into who steroid users are – so that the medical community as a whole can better treat users and prevent future abuse.
Bottom line: the overall culture on how steroids and steroid users are seen needs to change. Yes, steroids are harmful to our overall culture and health – but it shouldn’t be demonized. This won’t lead to change. We can reduce abuse through openness and education.
Debunking Steroid Stereotypes
There is a brief segment of the Vice News video that starts discussing concepts such as roid rage, sharing needles, and “penis shrinking.” This part is a bit of a mixed bag, with the professional correcting the interviewer on some misconceptions but also getting some facts wrong herself.
The Anabolic Doc points out that the expert being interviewed is not a medical professional – but instead a criminologist. So he understands why some of this misconceptions might have slipped through. This is why the doctor wanted to spend some time reacting to the video to straighten some stereotypes out.
The Anabolic Doc debunks the concept of ‘roid rage – stating, “If you’re an asshole then you’ll be an asshole on steroids.” He further compares it to the backwards way men may speak about a woman’s period.
Most people in today’s society know it is rude to use a period to invalidate a woman’s mood. This is true for steroid use and the stereotype of ‘roid rage. Yes, steroids vastly change your hormones, just like a period. And yes, it can lead to mood swings. But it’s not intrinsically related to rage. It affects every individual differently.
The Anabolic Doc also debunks the notion that steroid users line up and share needles at gyms. This may have been true decades ago when health information was less available. But in today’s society, most steroid users know how to be safe with clean needles and injections. This ties into lumping steroid users into the larger hard drug narrative. It creates a “demonized” vision of drug use where strung out users are sharing dirty needles and living in squalor. It’s just not true. There’s no data to support it.
Ultimately, the Vice News video brings attention to a core fact about steroids that many people aren’t aware of – that regular folk use these substances very frequently. It’s not longer an athlete drug. The Anabolic Doc commends the video for detailing this fact – and finds it encouraging that it’s catching waves. Changing the public perception of steroid usage is a big step towards changing how it’s handled.
However, the Anabolic Doc finds it important to fact check some of the misconceptions presented in the video. While it does an overall good job, much like science, these details need to be peer reviewed for viewers to be best informed.
You can watch Dr. Thomas O’Connor’s full reaction to the Vice News video in our latest GI Exclusive above.