Recreational athletes comprise the most prevalent population using illegal Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS). Despite regulatory efforts substances are widely accessible, and most users report the experience of harmful side effects. It remains unclear why few users seek professional medical help. The aim was to determine AAS users experience of side effects and help-seeking beliefs using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of six interviews. Results showed that AAS users discredit medical professionals’ competencies, and practice cognitive dissonance by avoiding challenging situations. A microculture for information-sharing has developed among AAS users who initially self-treat to counteract side effects, leaving them vulnerable to further harm. To conclude, there is an urgent need for educational interventions that outline the risky practice of unregulated AAS use and self-treatments, and the need to seek professional help. Such interventions could be developed through a co-production basis, and be implemented by former AAS users alongside the medical community.
|Journal||Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 4 Oct 2019|
- cognitive beliefs
- harm minimisation
- cognitive dissonance
- optimism bias
- gym clients