Recent trends in the use, abuse, and diversion of steroids for nonmedical purposes illustrate a growing problem that not only imposes health risks but presents ethical dilemmas as well. Concern over the known adverse effects, the limited research into the long-term effects, and the ethics of engineering body size and performance through anabolic-androgenic steroid use has led to legislative, legal, and education responses. Increased penalties for distribution to minors and stricter controls in prescribing practices have been enacted through state legislation and federal initiatives. Government, some health professional organizations, and some sports groups have denounced the nonmedical use of anabolic-androgenic steroids and have developed materials to educate their members, other professionals, athletes, educators, and the public at large.
The legal status of anabolic steroids varies from country to country. In the ., anabolic steroids are listed as Schedule III controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act , which makes the possession of such substances without a prescription a federal crime punishable by up to seven years in prison.  In Canada, anabolic steroids and their derivatives are part of the Controlled drugs and substances act and are Schedule IV substances, meaning that it is illegal to obtain or sell them without a prescription. However, possession is not punishable, a consequence reserved for schedule I, II or III substances. Those guilty of buying or selling anabolic steroids in Canada can be imprisoned for up to 18 months. Importing or exporting anabolic steroids also carry similar penalties.  Anabolic steroids are also illegal without prescription in Australia,  Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal,  and are listed as Schedule 4 Controlled Drugs in the United Kingdom.
This study assessed the prevalence, trends, and student- and college-level characteristics associated with the non-medical use of anabolic steroids (NMAS) among . college students. Data were collected through self-administered mail surveys, from 15,282, 14,428, 13,953, and 10,904 randomly selected college students at the same 119 nationally representative colleges in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001, respectively. The prevalence of lifetime, past-year and past-month NMAS was 1% or less and generally did not change significantly between 1993 and 2001, with one exception: past-year NMAS increased significantly among men from 1993 (%) to 2001 (%). Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that lifetime and past-year NMAS were associated with student-level characteristics such as being male and participation in intercollegiate athletics. Lifetime and past-year NMAS were also positively associated with several risky behaviors, including cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, drinking and driving, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorders. Nearly 7 out of every 10 lifetime non-medical users of anabolic steroids met past-year criteria for a DSM-IV alcohol use disorder. Although the overall prevalence of NMAS remained low between 1993 and 2001, findings suggest that continued monitoring is necessary because male student-athletes are at heightened risk for NMAS and this behavior is associated with a wide range of risky health behaviors. The characteristics associated with NMAS have important implications for future practice and research.