Anabolic steroids are prescription-only drugs which are sometimes taken illegally to increase muscle mass and athletic performance. They are becoming more readily available through on-line sites which offer advice and information on how to get the ‘perfect body’. This has led to the number of steroid and other performance and image enhancing drug users accessing needle exchanges and treatment services increasing nationally. Numbers are also rising in the East Riding, where over 10,000 needles have been issued through the Pharmacy Needle Exchange network since April 2012 in a pack designed for anabolic steroid injectors. These packs now make up a quarter of all needle exchanges in the region.
“very little is known about anabolic steroid use in the general population”Public health officials say despite media interest and evidence about the use of performance and image enhancing drugs in the sports arena, very little is known about their use in the general population.
Tony Margetts, the council’s substance misuse manager, said: “Anabolic steroids mimic the effects of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Along with exercise and a suitable diet they enable the body to develop muscle faster than they would normally. As they mimic testosterone they fool your body into thinking it no longer needs to produce this hormone and this can lead to a number of adverse side effects such as a reduction in fertility, rapid mood changes and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, they put added pressure on your liver and heart, increasing the risk of strokes.”The council has created an information leaflet in conjunction with service users, practitioners from drug treatment services and gym instructors from its leisure centres. This is available to download from the drug information pages of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s website.