Understanding continuous and problematic patterns of anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use amongst UK males

Annakin, Jamie (2021) Understanding continuous and problematic patterns of anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use amongst UK males. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Abstract

Background
Despite continuing ambiguity regarding anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) dependence forming properties, up to 30% of users are hypothesised to develop a dependence syndrome resulting in substantial morbidity, and in some cases suicidality. Motives for continuing use of AAS despite harms sit largely within two discursive and pathologizing frameworks of ‘illicit drug use’ and ‘body image disorder’ framing AAS as addictive psychoactive compounds, and users as psychologically disordered.

Aim
Offer a non-pathologizing view of the motives and rewards behind continuous and problematic patterns of AAS use amongst a sample of UK male ‘body sculptors’ with an ethno-physiological appreciation of excessive muscularity.

Methodology
This qualitative case study draws on participant observations over a ten-month period at a bodybuilding gymnasium in the West Midlands of England and semi-structured interviews with 15 current and former AAS users.

Results
Discontinuation of AAS use resulted in several study participants experiencing a state of ‘hysteresis’ due to a mismatch between their motivation and functional capability to work out productively once AAS use ended, and the temporal rhythms of bodybuilding practices required to appropriate muscle capital. Physical and mental health issues associated with the phenomenon of anabolic steroid induced hypogonadism (ASIH) led some participants to adopt continuous and problematic patterns of AAS use in a mode of ‘hysteresis’ avoidance. Several men expressed a belief that they had permanently impaired their own production of testosterone using AAS. Perceptions of stigma and gender inequality when seeking a resolution to the symptoms of hypogonadism prompted some men to return to illicitly produced AAS in a form of self-administered testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Recommendations
Harm reduction interventions for men wishing to permanently exit AAS use may benefit from assessment and appropriate treatment of hypogonadism as part of holistic model of support.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Dates:
DateEvent
17 December 2020Submitted
23 June 2021Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anabolic Androgenic Steroids, Harms, Rewards, Hypogonadism, Off Cycle Experiences, Post Cycle Therapy, Cruising, Qualitative, Case Study, Bourdieu, Capital, Hysteresis
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-05 - medical sciences > CAH02-05-02 - healthcare science (non-specific)
CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-06 - allied health > CAH02-06-01 - health sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 12:14
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2022 12:14
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13301

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