At the SSA Annual Conference in November 2021, Dr Owen Bowden-Jones chaired a session about the challenges of providing treatment and support for steroid use. Watch the series of talks and follow-up Q&A session now.

Three international experts discussed anabolic androgenic steroids – illicit or prescription-only drugs that are manufactured to mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone, and that are sometimes taken to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.

Dr Harrison Pope spoke about the public health implications of anabolic androgenic steroid use for muscular enhancement. Dr Pope is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston (United States) and has been researching anabolic androgenic steroids since the 1980s. He is currently conducting a five-year study exploring the potential neurotoxicity of long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid use.

Dr Astrid Bjørnebekk talked about the effect of anabolic androgenic steroids on the brain. Dr Bjørnebekk is head of The Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Research Group, based in Oslo University Hospital. Her current research investigates the long-term consequences of anabolic steroid use on brain structure, behaviour, and cognition with neuroimaging, mental health screening, and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment.

Professor James McVeigh discussed the UK’s response to the use of anabolic androgenic steroid use for muscular enhancement. Professor McVeigh is based at Manchester Metropolitan University, and has worked in the substance use field for nearly 30 years. In 2020, he founded the Anabolic Steroid United Kingdom Network and leads the National Institute for Health Research-funded research ‘Image and Performance Enhancing Drug Use in the United Kingdom’.

The session culminated with questions to the panel, chaired by Dr Owen Bowden-Jones and moderated by Dr Arun Dhandayudham.

by Natalie Davies

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