Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > More people are using steroids, and they're unaware of dangers
October 22, 2014
More people are using steroids, and they're unaware of dangers
As the inquest into the death of bodybuilder Luke Wood makes headlines, researchers have revealed that there is still a lot they need to find out about the fast-growing community of steroid users in Australia, reports Lachlan Williams. An ongoing coronial inquest into Wood’s death has found that anabolic steroid use contributed to his death from cardiac arrest following kidney surgery. Speaking at the Australian Drug Trends conference in Sydney on Monday, Dr Ingrid Van Beek, who conducts research at the Kirkwood Road Centre and Clinic 180 needle exchange programs in Sydney’s Kings Cross, and the Kirby Institute’s Dr Karen Chronister, said the number of people using so-called performance and image-enhancing drugs in Australia had risen rapidly. “Although we’ve seen people accessing needle and syringe programs using these drugs going back at least a decade, from 2009 until more recently we’ve seen quite an increase,” Dr Van Beek told ninemsn. In some areas, image-enhancing drug injectors now make up 15 percent of all injecting drug user. The largest increases in steroid injection are in New South Wales and Queensland. A survey undertaken at the Kirkwood Road Centre revealed that the people using steroids and other image-enhancing drugs were overwhelmingly male, and more likely to identify as gay or bisexual than other drug users. “Forty-two percent of our participants identified as gay or bisexual,” Dr Chronister said in her presentation. Dr Chronister said that most people who inject steroids and other image-enhancing drugs appear to be at a lower risk of contracting blood-borne diseases than other people who inject drugs. They appear to get tested more regularly, and share equipment less frequently than users who inject heroin or other drugs. But what is true in one area may not be true of another state, or even a different part of a same city, the researchers caution. “It’s likely to be quite different in different areas. At least anecdotally, we know in western Sydney it’s a different demographic to the people we’re seeing [in inner-city Kings Cross],” Dr Van Beek said. A lot of people injecting steroids are going to needle exchanges to pick up syringes for more than one person, making it difficult for health workers to even accurately estimate the size of the growing group of steroid injectors. Forty-four percent of image-enhancing drug users at the Kings Cross exchanges were getting needles for friends as well as themselves. “This high percentage leads to us not knowing how large that group of people who inject performance and image-enhancing drugs,” Dr Chronister said. “When they’re sharing [needles obtained at the centres] with their friends, we don’t know how many friends those are.” And the risks for this growing group are significant. Research into the deaths of steroid users conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre earlier this year showed that even those who didn’t die as a result of drug use had significant damage to their bodies. “We also found that nearly all of the individuals who had been using steroids together with psychostimulants had a lot of damage to their cardiovascular system,” said the Centre’s Professor Shane Darke. “The vast majority of users are unaware of the health dangers of their lifestyle.” http://health.ninemsn.com.au/fitness/8921420/more-people-using-steroids-unaware-of-dangers