Emerging anabolic androgenic steroid markets; the prominence of social media

Luke Cox, Nicholas Gibbs, Luke Turnock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


There have been notable shifts in the acquisition of anabolic androgenic steroids overtime, with face-to-face (within gyms) and online supply (e.g. internet forums, crypto-markets/darknet,and pharmacies) being popular locations to source and acquire these drugs. Fresh evidence suggests that social media facilitates the supply of anabolic androgenic steroids, however, no study has exclusively examined this phenomenon.
Aim and method:
This investigation sheds light on the supply of anabolic androgenic steroids over two major social media platforms: (i) Instagram; and (ii) TikTok. Digital ethnographic observations were conducted to identify and observe marketing strategies and supply methods.
The findings reveal: (1) public sale and advertisement of anabolic androgenic steroids via two distinct supplier types (i) direct suppliers (individuals and laboratories/shop accounts); and (ii) influencers (referring custom to third-party websites); (2) marketing techniques, including images of prod-ucts, flash-sales, and discount codes; (3) delivery methods; (4) messaging platforms; and (5) payment.
Social media platforms facilitate the supply of anabolic androgenic steroids, increasing accessibility to these drugs. This, we argue, disproportionately affects younger, more vulnerable, and less informed populations. These findings ought to be considered within wider discussions related to harm reduction, providing policy makers with evidence to strengthen such calls.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Early online date24 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

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