October 6, 2015
Bigorexia: How The Juice Bar is targeting steroid abuse among young men
Under a constant bombardment of images of rippling biceps, washboard abs and bronzed bodies, young men are risking their lives to achieve the perfect look. In recent times, the focus has been on young girls developing anxieties over their bodies and even eating disorders as they try to attain the unachievable airbrushed images of perfection in magazines.“Women have had to deal with this for a long time,” says Tony Margetts, substance misuse manager at East Riding Council. “The underlying issues of low self-esteem are seen in eating disorders and this is an expression of the same thing in men.” Public Health England estimates one million people, with 93 per cent of them men, are abusing anabolic steroids and there are “substantial increases” in the East Riding. In an attempt to deal with the growing problem, the East Riding Partnership is setting up two drop-in clinics to offer a free needle exchange service for people abusing steroids and putting their lives in danger. All sessions are confidential and are on a one-to-one basis. By encouraging young men to come into the clinics, staff working for the partnership between the Alcohol and Drugs Service and Humber NHS Foundation Trust will be able to give them information about the harm steroids can do to your body and advice on safe injection sites to keep them out of danger. Once people start using the service known as The Juice Bar, senior practitioners like Paul Martindale hope to win their trust and get them to open up about bigger issues such as bigorexia. A relatively new condition emerging from the US about two years ago, it is similar to anorexia, where a person’s perception of how their body looks is distorted. Sufferers do not see how big their bodies have become and often push themselves further and harder, risking their health and putting themselves through unbearable anxiety and pressure, to achieve their ideal shape. Vicky Coy, service manager for the East Riding Partnership, said many people abusing steroids do not see themselves as having a drug problem, disassociating themselves from the stereotype of an addict ravaged by the effects of heroin abuse. She said: “We recognised we weren’t seeing these people and that’s because they do not identify themselves to traditional drug and alcohol services. “So they’re getting a lot of their information from friends in the gym or online.” The team is also working with council-run leisure centres and has trained 70 instructors on the signs of steroid abuse. The Juice Bar is the latest initiative run by the partnership, which recently marked ten years of success. Commissioned by East Riding Council, it is credited with helping thousands rebuild their lives after addiction. The service is regarded as one of the most successful in the country and it has been commended by the Care Quality Commission for its high- quality care. As part of its success, the partnership is evolving to stay up to speed with developments in addictions and the emergence of new threats. Mr Margetts said three new addiction problems have emerged in recent years – prescription drugs, legal highs and the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Abusing steroids has come to the fore in the past four or five years. “If you go back ten years, this wasn’t an issue,” he said. “If you saw it at all, it was confined to serious competitive athletes or serious body builders in private gyms. What we are seeing is the spread of steroids being used in recreational gyms and lower levels of sport. “It’s happening in sports where you need to be big and strong, such as rugby, and in professional groups where it’s good to be big, like doormen.” Addiction services are seeing teenagers aged from 16 although it tends to be young men aged between 19 and 28 abusing steroids. There is also a rise in older men taking steroids, desperate to hang onto the physiques of their youth. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mohammed Alsaidi, who specialises in addictions, said: “When we talk to people about this, they talk about wanting to be ‘big.’ We think there are underlying issues about masculinity tied in with this. “It’s like the pressures women have been facing for a long time over their bodies through the media and on television and in films. Now, it’s starting to be targeted at men.” Tony Margetts sees the pressure now facing men over body image to be the male equivalent of eating disorders, where women have been starving themselves in an attempt to achieve the “lollipop” look of celebrities. While the proliferation of “body beautiful” images flood social media, Mr Margetts believes there is an even more deep-seated issue linked to the heritage of the working class North. “Some areas in the region already have good specialist services and they’re the big, oldest industrial cities, like Sheffield and Doncaster,” he said. “It does make you think about attitudes over masculinity and a male-dominated working-class culture compared with where we’re at now. We’ve got young men working in call centres when they once would have worked down mines.” Read more: http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Bigorexia-Juice-Bar-targeting-steroid-abuse-young/story-27925459-detail/story.html#ixzz3nnUPcuWv
But addiction experts in East Yorkshire fear older teenage boys and young men are turning to performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids, and are developing body image disorder “bigorexia”, regarded as a form of reverse anorexia, as they come under pressure to look good in selfies and on social media sites.