Last month, Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews left the I’m a Celebrity jungle ‘on medical grounds’. Soon afterwards Matthews admitted he had been taking steroids – body-enhancing drugs which he began using to prepare for a charity boxing match (which never took place) and had continued to take as filming of the ITV series began. Producers deemed it too risky for Matthews to continue to be a part of the show, and sent him packing.Wood is concerned at the rate at which steroid abuse is rising, and the readiness with which these substances are available. “Buying online has become the procurement method of choice for the majority of steroid users; it’s simple, convenient and operates under a ‘no questions asked’ system. Just type the word ‘Buy Steroids’ into a search engine and a long list of websites will appear. “However, not all steroids are the same and purchasing online, you can’t really ever know what you are going to get. Some are ‘manufactured’ in illegal factories or by individuals and can contain harmful chemicals which don’t even simulate the effects of steroids.” Prolonged use and overdependence on steroids can lead to organ failure, with the liver particularly at risk. “When taking steroids the liver works overtime to detoxify the body from chemicals and build up of toxins,” says Wood. “So, with continuous use, the liver will be damaged and cease to function. “Additionally,” he continues, “the longer steroids are used, the more severe the effects can be. When the body absorbs steroids, it causes an overproduction of cholesterol which, in turn, has an impact on cardiac functions and can cause high blood pressure. If this is not identified straight away, it can cause long term health problems.” Open Road has also recently identified a correlation between those using steroids to excess and those suffering from mental conditions such as muscle dysmorphia – a disorder characterised by a fear of being too physically small.Paul, from West London, is an ex-user of steroids, who stopped taking the drugs when he realised the adverse effects they were having on his body, mental health and wider life. “I had wanted to compete in [bodybuilding] competitions,” Paul tells me, “but I wasn’t very big or lean. So I researched what steroids would help me online, and then was properly introduced to the drugs through others at the gym.” Gyms can be seen as breeding grounds for the growing steroid craze. Gym culture has opened the door to experimentation with performance-enhancing drugs, and in such hormone-fuelled environments, men like Paul can feel easily pressured into trying steroids. 6.2 per cent of the UK population suffers from the metabolic disorder of diabetes, this would seem like an overly generous move from a budget gym chain. Paul believes that steroid use is most prevalent in the gym community. “I was mixing with a particular crowd of people,” the ex-user says. “And the steroids made me feel stronger, more confident, powerful and enabled me to work harder and for a longer time. I knew that I was getting addicted, as I couldn’t stay away from the gym and yearned for the whole process of injecting myself. “Coming off steroids was a long process,” Paul reveals. “The fact of the matter is that it becomes such an important part of your life that when you finally stop taking them, your confidence goes, your lifestyle changes and depression can very easily set in. A life without steroids does not feel like a normal life.” Paul believes that the only way to stop others getting hooked on steroids is to teach young people the dangers of these drugs. “Education is what is missing,” says the ex-user. “And face-to-face teaching, not just information on the internet. “The problem of steroid addiction has been steadily growing over the last 8 years, and unless young people are shown the dangers of steroids, or educated about alternative ways of effectively growing muscle, the situation will only continue to get worse.” Steve Wood also recognises the effect that steroids are having on the younger generation, as the majority of those he speaks to through Open Road are below the age of 25. “And this is the most vulnerable age group,” Wood reveals. “Because it is markedly more dangerous for those under the age of 25 to use steroids than anyone else.
December 9, 2015
How dangerous is steroid addiction?