A news feature on Good Morning Britain today (13th July) highlighted concern around the increased use of anabolic steroids and the impact these drugs are having on long-term health and well-being.
I’m A Celebrity contestant Spencer Matthews was tasked with investigating the issue after opening up about his own steroid abuse following his appearance on the reality show.
Researchers from the ITV breakfast programme contacted needle exchanges and drug charities across the country to get the latest figures on steroid use.
The investigation found that the number of steroid users visiting one needle exchange clinic in Wales increased more than eight fold, from 269 to 2,161 in five years. There has also been a 50 per cent rise in calls to the Welsh drug and alcohol helpline about steroids over the same period.
In Essex, a local drugs charity said that over 50 per cent of visits to needle exchanges are by steroid users. They also reported that 25 per cent of all first time users are teenagers with boys as young as 14 taking the drug.
Prevalence rates for HIV are now higher among steroid users than heroin users, according to the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.
Anabolic steroids are taken to increase muscle mass and athletic performance but can cause serious side effects and become very addictive:
- Side effects of steroid abuse for men are reduced sperm count, infertility, shrunken testicles, erectile dysfunction, baldness, severe acne, breast development, increased risk of developing prostate cancer and stomach pain.
- Side effects for women are facial hair growth and body hair, loss of breasts, swelling of the clitoris, a deepened voice, an increased sex drive, problems with periods, hair loss and severe acne.
- Steroid abuse can also lead to high blood pressure and can increase your risk of illness and death due to liver failure, stroke or heart attack.
- Psychological and emotional effects include aggressive behaviour, mood swings, manic behaviour, hallucinations and delusions.
The increase in use is being blamed on increased pressure to have the’body beautiful’.
Classed as a category C drug, anabolic steroids can only be sold by pharmacists to someone with a prescription.
Help and support in Warwickshire
If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drug or alcohol misuse, please contact our local services for help and advice:
Contact Compass Warwickshire for drug and alcohol advice, information and specialist treatment on freephone 08000 88 72 48. The service is available between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Please leave a message if your call isn’t answered – someone will get back to you.
18 or over?
The Recovery Partnership offers drug and alcohol advice, information, needle exchange services, a range of treatment options including prescribing, detoxification, 1-to1 support, structured day programmes, aftercare and support for parents and carers.