Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Steroid use: A 600% increase in users and a health time bomb from a growing problem
July 27, 2015
Steroid use: A 600% increase in users and a health time bomb from a growing problem
Anabolic steroids: a growing epidemic
Experts claim Britain is experiencing an epidemic of anabolic steroid use among image-obsessed youngsters and warn it faces a health time bomb from a problem which they maintain is significantly under-represented in official statistics. The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that just under 60,000 people a yeartake the drugs, which mimic the effects of testosterone and boost muscle growth. But sports scientist Professor Julien Baker, an expert in steroid use from the University of the West of Scotland who used to work at the University of Glamorgan, insisted: “It is a big underestimate. “There are needle exchanges in Cardiff and Glasgow which say they’ve seen a 600% increase for steroid users over 10 years. The real figure is definitely in the hundreds of thousands.” With it has come a growing health toll, including an HIV infection rate among steroid users which has reached 1.5% – as high as that for injectors of drugs such as heroin – and growing rates of hepatitis B and C infection. As well as the immediate effects of the steroids, which can include high blood pressure and aggression, longer-term use can put them at risk of depression, heart problems, strokes, impotence and even long-term brain damage. There have been reports of children as young as 13 using steroids. “The vast majority of people we see use steroids for image reasons,” said Gary Beeny, who has worked in a steroid clinic in Manchester. “It’s mainly to show your muscles, going out. It’s all linked to images of lean physiques with big arms. That’s the kind of look the young lads like. “It used to be much more limited; only the really big, muscular guys went anywhere near steroids but now it can be anybody who goes to a gym and speaks to people. The network of supply and demand is very advanced.” A Welsh Olympian spoke to WalesOnline on condition of anonymity. He stressed he had never taken any banned performing substances but claimed steroid abuse was rife in some gyms and society among the young. “Illegal performing enhancing substances can be bought in a matter of minutes, whether it be over the internet or by telephone. That’s the reality of sport and life today.” Baker, in a previous interview, concurred with the view of UKAD, Sport Wales and the WRU on doping in Welsh rugby. “At the lower end – non-First Division and regional – it may be quite widespread because it is not regulated as well as at the top end,” he said. “Steroid use can be very appealing to athletes and in some ways it is blameless. “If they are competing against guys who they know are taking gear and have a definite edge they may find themselves in a situation where they do it just to even up the score. “In this case you can’t blame the athletes but the politicians who have failed to stamp it out. “Elite players have much better access to good training programmes and dietary advice than the lower divisions.” http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/steroid-use-britain-600-increase-9718382