More people are seeking help for steroid abuse than heroin addiction in Manchester.
Health chiefs have been forced to set up a special clinic in response to soaring numbers of men using steroids. The amount of people seeking help has doubled in six months. Four times as many people have asked for help for steroid abuse than heroin addiction in the city, according to figures released by Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.
Bosses at the trust are blaming the rise on the growing pressure on men to look good - and the availability of steroids online and in gyms. They told the M.E.N. many of the men are suffering from 'Adonis body syndrome' or 'Bigorexia' - constantly thinking they are unattractive and not muscular enough. Trust chiefs have launched the Pump Clinic in Ancoats to deal with the problem.
Colin Tyrie, of Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, runs the needle exchange at the clinic - which is seeing between 50 and 100 steroid users a month. He said: “Over the last 10 years, there has been a gradual trickling of steroid users coming through our doors but the numbers recently have grown quite dramatically. “The pressure is becoming greater on men to look good - or at least look how they think is good. Women often take extreme measures such as Botox and men are seeking that physical perfection too. They want perfect abdominal muscles - and think steroids offer a quick fix.”
A decade ago, steroid users were professional bodybuilders but since then the profile of users has changed. They are not the typical injection drug users. They come from a wide range of backgrounds from 18 up to our oldest user at 62. They tend to be in employment and see what they are doing as a positive 'healthy' thing - they do it to feel confident about their bodies.”
Last August, just 33 people sought help for steroid abuse at a drop-in drugs centre in Manchester, compared to 86 heroin, cocaine and amphetamine (HCA) addicts. But the trend was reversed by February - with 67 people seeking help for steroids and just 17 for HCA. Manchester-based charity Lifeline has revealed that around 100,000 people across Britain are using steroids. They have a mood-lifting effect and can cause users to get bigger muscles within weeks. Side-effects include heart problems, kidney damage, premature hair loss and shrinking testicles.
Mr Tyrie said part of the problem was that the drugs were widely available online - although they were often fake, containing potentially poisonous oils. He added: “Some gyms are struggling because of the recession and are turning a blind eye to it. With the Olympics on the way, the worry is that more men will turn to steroids to be 'body beautiful'.
Hopefully, there will be a clampdown and people will understand how dangerous it is.” The Pump clinic, on Old Mill Street in Ancoats, can be contacted in confidence by calling 0161 274 1652, Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 6.30pm.
Case study: 'Roid rage' cost me my marriage:
A DAD-of-one has told how experimenting with steroids for two years cost him his marriage. The 35-year-old, from north Manchester, said although injecting himself felt wrong, he didn't think he was doing his body harm. But his use of steroids resulted in massive mood swings which saw him involved in road rage incidents and even domestic violence. He told the M.E.N: “I took steroids for about two years. I had been going to the gym three or four times a week but not seeing the results of other gym users.I started reading bodybuilding magazines and everyone in them spoke about 'being on the juice' - a reference to steroids. Then when I was chatting to someone in the gym about supplements, he told me he could get me some steroids.”
He soon started with mood swings, hot flushes, sleepless nights, a pounding heart and hair loss. He said: “They make you pumped up. But it's not something you can switch off when you leave the gym. They make you feel angry and for me that ended up in road rage and domestic violence.” He added: “I knew that it wasn't good for my health. I have never used them since. I still go the gym but I now believe nothing can beat a good diet and a healthy lifestyle.
He added: “I knew that it wasn't good for my health. I have never used them since. I still go the gym but I now believe nothing can beat a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. It seems steroids are too easy to get hold of.”