Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Brian Cuban: Confessions Of A Steroid Monster
October 30, 2014
Brian Cuban: Confessions Of A Steroid Monster
There are all kinds of addictions.  Drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling shopping, etc.  Being addicted to a shitty self image can be just as destructive.  I have been obsessed with my body appearance since I was 18 years old.   I was a fat kid topping out at 240 lbs at 17 years old.  As I transitioned into college I began to work out and take up running.  I decided that being thin was the road to popularity.  All the kids I saw with all the cool friends and pretty girls were thin.  I  became Forrest Gump.  I began to run.  I ran day and night, twice a day until I was running 10-20  miles a day.  My weight had dropped to under 170 lbs from a high of just under 270. I had became anorexic, then bulimic which would last until 2007.  I ran  multiple marathons.  When I finished law school and moved to Dallas in 1986 I was neither prepared mentally or of a maturity level to deal with the Dallas social scene.   In 1986 Dallas was winding down from its boom days of 1981-1985. The average age was about 28 as compared to almost 32 today.  While not the wild west of the early to mid 80′s it was still a major party town Life revolved around partying, women and dating to a much larger degree than the normal 25 year old would experience today.  Coming from the small town of Pittsburgh, Pa having just completed 7 straight years of  school Dallas was a new ball game with different rules of conduct. I was unprepared. I moved into “The Village“.   At the time it was the largest singles complex in the world.  It was the place for the up an coming professional single to mingle.   In my mind every guy and girl looked like they had come out of GQ or Maxim. The whole city was “in-shape pretty”.  Everyone but me.  I was also brutally shy.  I decided that I had to come up with a new self image to fit in, be accepted, get dates and make the scene in general. Fat Teenager In 1986 you could obtain steroids legally with a prescription. I was working out at a now defunct gym called “The Body Forum”.  One of my workout partners was a guy named Jeff Gaylord who was an All-American football player at the University of Missouri at for a long time had the Big 8  bench press record. He went on to become a popular professional wrestler.  Steroid use at the gym was open and rampant.  I inquired.  I was given the name of a doctor  who would prescribe  them as part of a “weight gain” program.  I made the appointment, got my physical and received my prescription for the steroid Anavar.  Anavar is an fairly mild oral(pill) steroid that will not bulk you up but will put on some decent lean muscle mass depending on your genetics.  I was told that this particular steroid had few if any side effects but as with all steroids was warned not drink while I was taking it as it puts stress on the liver.   He gave me a prescription for a ten week supply. I went from 185-200 lbs.  During that time, I became more acclimated to the Dallas social scene. I stared dating someone and was feeling good enough about my appearance and self image that I did not see the need to continue the steroid experiment.  They were also very expensive and I was barely getting by in my first job. Between 1988 and 1990, Congressional hearings were held to determine the extent of steroid abuse and whether  they should be included in the Controlled Substances Act .  During this time, I had married and was happy in my life.  There was no need for steroids or for working out for that matter.  When the marriage failed in 1990 I decided that the quick way back to the top of hte looks pyramid on the Dallas party scene was another steroid cycle.Unfortunately for me the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 had passed putting all “steroid doctors” out of business.   The act made it illegal to prescribe steroids without a legitimate medical purpose and specifically illegal to prescribe them for  those seeking muscle growth for athletic or cosmetic enhancement.(There are legitimate uses such as for severe burn victims and Aids patients.)   Having no legitimate means to obtain them and not yet being aware of the “black market”  I had to be content to do through hard work in the gym.  When I looked in the mirror however I was never where I needed to be.  Frankly my self image was so bad that I could have been Arnold Schwarzeneger and still would have seen a skinny ugly kid that needed to bulk up.  It was never about how I looked.  It was always about how I felt. I made my first black market steroids purchase in  1999.  I had joined a new, “yuppie gym”. I had a personal trainer. I  had been more focused on running marathons than getting big.  I had also just come out of a 4 year relationship and once again feeling terrible about myself and ability to date, meet people etc.   I was vulnerable to the “quick fix” to get “buff ” which in my mind meant dates with hot women and popularity.   I entered the steroid “black market“.   Upon recommendation of a person at my gym,  I obtained the steroids, Primobolan(the same one A-Rod tested positive for), Deca-Durabolinand Winstrol.  All of which had to be injected.  The common place to inject was the buttocks.  I had never injected myself with anything in my life and did not really know how.  I was also no big fan of the sight of my own blood.  The thought of putting a one inch needle into my butt twice a week made my stomach turn.  Not much choice though.  Was  I was going to let some gym guy inject my butt?  I DON’T THINK SO!   I learned the hard way, injecting myself in front of a mirror.  After a lot of trial and error and my butt looking like a pin cushion I got it down pretty well.  There were the few times  when I would hit  a vein, and the blood would shoot  5 feet across the room causing me to almost pass out from the sight of it.  This is a common occurrence for steroid monsters but I was a steroid baby and it scared me shitless.  The gains  however were massive. My weight skyrocket to 230 in just just over 3 months.  When I complained that my butt felt like pin cushion the person who mentored me told me that I should start injecting into my quadriceps.  I was always scared of this method because it looked like it hurt a lot more than the injecting into the butt.  I  was right. It hurt like hell.  I then made was almost a tragic mistake.  In June of 2000 I  mistakenly injected myself in the left quadricep with the same needle I had used to inject  another part of my body. (I always used a new syringe to maintain a sterile environment.)  I had forgotten to throw one of the needles away and confused  it with the sterile syringe. What this did was transfer the bacteria from on the needle from the first injection to the new puncture in my quad. The new puncture closed on itself creating the perfect environment for  a staph infection. Steroid Monster-1999 I first noticed the aching in  my left leg around August of that year.   I did not pay much attention to it.  I was working out hard twice a day and thought I had pulled a muscle.  The quadriceps began to  swell  and by September it was getting difficult to even bend it.  I finally went to my physician and he recommended an MRI.  He also prescribed antibiotics.  I waited for the results thinking at worst I had torn a quad muscle.  I was in Pittsburgh visiting my parents when my doctor called me on my cell phone.  He advised me to get to the nearest hospital and check myself in immediately.  The MRI had revealed a massive infection moving rapidly up my leg to towards my pelvis.  He told me that if the infection hit the pelvis the consequences could be grave.  Being a complete idiot I decided to fly back to Dallas instead.  I checked myself into the hospital that next morning.   I was immediately taken into into surgery.  The surgeon told me they were going to, stick  a 12 inch syringe in my leg and see what came out.  They would then decide whether to operate.  The next thing I knew it was 8 hours later. They  had cut my leg open and removed a massive abscess.  I was told that if I had let it go one more week I may have lost my leg.   While I had told the doctor and the hospital what happened I was in no  mood to admit illegal steroid use to the people close to me.   I told my girlfriend and family that I had fallen on a piece of metal that punctured my leg and caused the infection.  While I did finally tell my family, I have pretty much let that story stand until today. The recovery was brutal.  The infected area was so large that when I was discharged after a week they had inserted a tube in my body entering through my collarbone all the way down to the infected area.  I had these little ball shaped containers of antibiotics that I would attach on the exposed side of the tube.  It would pump strong antibiotics directly to the infected area.  It was gross and painful. I eventually made a full  recovery.  They however cut so much muscles out of my left leg that today I can stick my finger halfway through leg in the scar area. It will still numb up in that area if i exert too much. Fast forward to 2009.  It has been years since I have used steroids.  I have learned many lessons about myself and the perils of self image addiction.  While I still like to work out and stay in shape I’ve learned that no matter how good I think I look it is just a transparent, mental image that can be manipulated at will and crash on a moment’s notice.  I have learned that worrying about how others view body is  empty, dangerous and addictive in itself.  I have learned that the things that make me feel good in life do not come out of a bottle and syringe.  They come from the people in in my life who see who I am and not what I look like.  Despite all this self-knowledge I know that the “steroid monster”  is deep inside me waiting for the right combination of  events to rear its ugly head.  Hopefully I have learned enough to beat it back if that happens.  Hopefully  I’ve learned to be me. Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders, steroid addiction and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction. Brian speaks regularly to about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma. You can purchase Shattered Image here If you would like Brian to speak to your university, group or organization please email alana@arlangroup.com   For interview requests please contact MWilson@rubensteinpr.com