Regardless of the type of sport, performance enhancing drugs are nearly everywhere – from small town gyms to major league locker rooms.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that its use is documented in obvious competitive sports like weightlifting and football, as well as not-so-obvious ones, such as NASCAR.

According to the AAOS, an estimated 15 million Americans currently use performance-enhancing drugs, and 3 million of them use steroids.

Major League Baseball prohibits the use of 95 substances, including steroids, amphetamines, and human growth hormone.

Anabolic Steroids

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, anabolic steroids represented more than 50 percent of reported incidents of banned substance use in professional athletes during 2012.

A poll published in the March 2009 issue of American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation asked 2,552 former NFL players about their drug use while playing professional sports. Of those who responded, more than 9 percent admitted to having used steroids during their football careers.

The high profile use of steroids may play a role in the drug’s use among teenagers. According to The Mayo Clinic, approximately 1 in 20 teenagers admit to using steroids with the goal of building muscle mass.

A poll by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 2 percent of 12th graders had used performance enhancing drugs at some point in their lives in 2013, compared to just over 1 percent of 8th graders polled at the same time.

Boys are more likely to use the drugs than girls are – especially those who feel pressure by peers or family members to build muscle and improve performance during competition.

Risks of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

Physically, the effects of performance enhancing drugs are different on men versus women. Males may be more likely to become impotent, infertile, and develop male-pattern baldness among other side effects.

For women, the risks include a deeper voice and increased body hair.

ADHD Medications

In the 2009-2010 school year, more than 7 percent of NCAA athletes at Texas A&M were taking stimulants that were prescribed for the treatment of ADHD.

Adderall and Ritalin Abuse in Sports

The World Anti-Doping Agency reports that stimulants represented more than 15 percent of doping reports among athletes in 2012 – second only to steroids.

Between January 2012 and September 2013, more than a dozen NFL and MLB players were suspended for misusing Adderall and Ritalin.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.4 percent of 12th graders polled in 2013 admitted to abusing the ADHD medication Adderall at some point within the previous year.

Signs of Performance Enhancement Drug Abuse

Signs of possible performance drug misuse include:

  • Increased aggression (‘Roid Rage’)
  • Rapid changes in body build – especially upper body muscle mass
  • Facial weight gain
  • Increased acne
  • Breast changes (larger breasts in men and smaller breasts in women)


  1. Michael F. Schafer, MD and Mary Ann Porucznik, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, October 2014, “If You’re Not Cheating, You’re Not Trying”
  2. LA Times, “Baseball’s Banned Substances”
  3. ABC News, August 2013, “Performance Enhancing Drugs: A Cheat Sheat – Anabolic Steroids”
  4. Association Against Steroid Abuse, “Steroid Abuse in Sports”
  5. CNN, August 2014, “Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports Fast Facts”,
  6. U.S. News, February 2009, “1 in 10 Ex-NFL Players Used Steroids”–used–steroids-poll-reports
  7. The Mayo Clinic, August 2013, “Performance Enhancing Drugs and Teen Athletes”,
  8. National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs”,
  9. The Mayo Clinic, August 2013, “Performance Enhancing Drugs and Teen Athletes”,
  10. Dr. Sharon Orrange, The Daily Strength, August 2011, “ADHD Medication and Sports: Is There an Advantage?”
  11. ABC News, August 2013, “Performance Enhancing Drugs: A Cheat Sheet – Stimulants”
  12., September 2013, Adderall Remains Drug of Choice for Many NFL Players
  13. National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs”,