Alienation and Lack of Trust
Barriers to Seeking Substance Use Disorder Treatment Among Men Who Struggle to Cease Anabolic-androgenic Steroid Use
Anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use became illegal when the Norwegian Drug Act was amended in 2013, and AAS and other image- and performance-enhancing drugs were included in the politics and treatment of substance use. Few individuals with AAS-related health problems seek substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. This article aims to explore understandings of AAS dependence, barriers to treatment-seeking, and experiences of entering SUD treatment among a sample of men with AAS-related health problems struggling to cease AAS use. Seeking treatment for AAS-related health problems within SUD treatment services was described as alienating. First, because the participants experienced their struggle to quit using AAS to be different from being dependent upon psychoactive substances. They linked their struggles to symptoms of hormonal disturbance, need for a certain body size, and/or the sense of wellbeing provided by AAS and which enable them to function socially. Second, they experienced alienation because of their healthy identities, bodies and lifestyles, as opposed to how they viewed individuals with severe SUDs and emaciated bodies. A major barrier to treatment-seeking was participants’ lack of trust that SUD treatment providers had the knowledge and the means to provide treatment of their AAS-related health problems and struggle to quit AAS use. Experienced barriers towards seeking SUD treatment should be taken into account when planning, organizing and implementing health services for individuals with AAS-related health problems.
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