Exploring user narratives of self-medicated black market IPED use for therapeutic & wellbeing purposes

Exploring user narratives of self-medicated black market IPED use for therapeutic & wellbeing purposes / Luke A.Turnock. - (Performance Enhancement & Health (2021) 8 November; 100207)

  • DOI: 10.1016/j.peh.2021.100207


With the rising use of IPEDs, it is important to understand how user motivations and practices influence harms, in order to formulate effective harm reduction policy. Existing work has consequently developed user typologies to address this need for specific interventions for differing users. Within this, the ‘wellbeing’ user type is one of the most prominent, however this broad category encompasses a range of users with distinct motivations and needs. This paper consequently explores the subcategory of therapeutically-motivated IPED users, whose IPED use is targeted at repair, rehabilitation, and self-medicating for health conditions, and considers the specific needs of this user category.

Findings are drawn from a connective ethnography of gyms in South-West England, and digital fitness platforms, to analyze the motivations of therapeutically-oriented users, and how their behaviors and experiences are important to formulating interventions and broader policy discussions.

Motivations explored include: (1) repair and injury rehabilitation, including those who access IPEDs for repair relating to sporting or competitive endeavors, as well as those whose IPED use is self-medicating for chronic health conditions. (2) General ‘wellbeing’ motivations for which participants self-medicated with IPEDs, including: health-oriented fat loss, rehabilitation for sleep, irritable bowel syndrome, and offsetting the negative health effects of hard sporting training. And (3) self-medicated testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to offset negative symptoms ascribed to ‘low testosterone’, in both older gym participants whose natural levels were declining and who were looking to offset this, as well as men who experienced mental health difficulties such as depression, and sought to restore wellbeing through use of black market testosterone.

This article demonstrates the breadth of therapeutic motivations for IPED use, and points to the ways in which the specific needs of this user category may be distinct from broader ‘wellbeing’ users. Significantly, participant narratives regarding the medical community's perceived unwillingness to treat them, and their feelings that this pushed them to access illicit IPEDs, indicate the importance of understanding the specific needs in relation to harm reduction policy formation.


1 November 2021
Turnock, Luke A.
United Kingdom
Other organisations
University of Lincoln
Medical terms
Substance use research
Treatment / self-medication
Gym/fitness environment
Illegal production / trade
Document category
Document type
Pdf file
Date generated
11 November 2021
Date of last modification
17 November 2021
  • Legal Source
  • Education
  • Science
  • Statistics
  • History
Country & language
  • Country
  • Language
Other filters
  • ADRV
  • Legal Terms
  • Sport/IFs
  • Other organisations
  • Laboratories
  • Analytical aspects
  • Doping classes
  • Substances
  • Medical terms
  • Various
  • Version
  • Document category
  • Document type
Publication period