Steroid user confesses

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

"John" never looked like those freaks on the cover of bodybuilding magazines.

Not freak-like, but still ripped. And now, at 5-foot-7 and 160 lbs, you'd never know he was once consumed by The Look, a physique that he concluded he could only sculpt with steroids.

John, not his real name, could lose his job if his bosses find out he took steroids.

At the age of 16, he wanted to impress the girls. And he wanted to bulk up for hockey. So he began taking steroids. He stopped after a few weeks.

"I didn't like needles," he says.

But after turning 20, he started taking steroids again.

One afternoon at a gym, a man approached him and asked if he had ever thought of entering a bodybuilding competition.

"Then he asked me, 'What have you "ran" so far,' and I asked what he meant, and he said, 'How much juice have you done?' "

Shocked, but intrigued, John decided to begin his second experiment with steroids. An experiment that lasted for six years.

He became obsessed.

"It became much more than a bodybuilding thing," says John. "If people didn't look me over when I walked into a room, I would be upset and surprised that they didn't.

"It was a perpetual insanity that I had to get bigger."

It also put him in a crazy world in which some users lived by the motto, "Bury Me Big," caring nothing about the damage being inflicted on their bodies by the drugs.

A world in which they would buy drugs at the gym from a dealer and get steroids intended for farm animals.

"We'd get bottles where the doses would call for 100 milligrams for a horse every other day.

"Guys who were hard users would be taking 10 times the dosage. It was just insane."

He didn't feel big enough, even though he gained 60 lbs in less than a year.

"I'd go to the beach but I was ashamed of myself," he says. "I looked like any one of those guys you'd see in one of those muscle magazines, but I still wouldn't take my shirt off at the beach."

John calls it "reverse anorexia," and the medical term for it is muscle dysmorphic disorder.

So obsessed with his appearance, he would wake at night and cook foods high in protein, worrying that he'd lose weight without eating.

"One night, it was about 3 o'clock and I woke up and fried a steak because I thought I'd lose a pound if I didn't."

John finally stopped. For his own sake.

"I just lost total perspective on why I was doing it and what's important in my life," he says. "Really, who gives a damn if my arms are 17 inches anyway?"

Taking steroids is costly, physically and to the chequebook.

John spent about $3,000 every year he took drugs, but knew guys who were laying out $40,000 each year.

He's been off steroids for several years and has never experienced a setback in his health.

He justified using steroids because he had stayed clear of booze, cigarettes and other drugs during his youth.

"I lived a clean life, and I guess steroids were my only vice," he says.


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