Merchants Quay Ireland’s new research study ‘Examining the Profile and Perspectives of Individuals Attending Harm Reduction Services who are Users of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs’ was launched today by Ms Susan Scally, Head of the Drug Policy Unit, Department of Health.
The report highlights the relatively new phenomenon of Users of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (steroid users) presenting at Irish drug treatment services.
Users of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs(PEID) are a new grouping of injecting drug users who are at serious risk across a range of physical, psychological and behavioural areas.
The focus of the present report is on exploring this emerging trend and examining ways in which to address the associated risk.
The Research Report worked with a sample of 89 individuals who were using Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs and were attending Merchants Quay Irelands Dublin based needle exchange programme. The report revealed the following information:
The sample was all male with an average age of 24 years and with an age range of 18 to 40 years.
50% had never tested for HIV or Hepatitis C and of those who had tested 10% were Hep C positive.
The level of other drug use was high with use in the past month showing 62% used alcohol, 40% used cannabis, 23% used benzodiazepines and 17% used cocaine.
Users reported a range of negative side effects including increased aggression (38.2%), sudden mood changes (31.5%), anxiety (19.1%), and depression (18%).
The progression of PIED use most commonly reported was “starting using oral steroids and then progressed to injecting steroids” (38%).
Speaking At the launch, Tony Geoghegan, Director of MQI said ‘The use of PIEDs is associated with a wide range of adverse impacts, which may manifest in physical, psychological and behavioural problems.
The varied needs of this group require integrative approaches, with emphasis on developing inter-agency links and establishing care pathways between general health services, harm reduction services, and mental health services.”