MEDICS say the number of regular users of the bodybuilding drugs has soared across Scotland over the last two years, with the country’s only clinic in Glasgow reporting four times the number of clients since it opened in 2010
NEEDLE exchanges are being used by almost as many steroid injectors as heroin addicts.
Medics say the number of regular users of the bodybuilding drugs has soared across Scotland over the last two years.
The country’s only specialist needle exchange for anabolic steroid users registered 64 clients when it opened in 2010.
But in the last two years, the Glasgow clinic has reported four times that number of clients.
Scots GP Dr Rob Dawson, one of the UK’s leading steroid experts, said: “We found nearly half – about 43 per cent – of people using needle exchanges across the UK are anabolic steroid users.
“But where a heroin user might come in and collect needles just for themselves and a partner, a steroid user might collect needles for their whole gym.
“And a heroin user may use a needle more than once, whereas a steroid user is less likely to.
“It is difficult to get an accurate picture just from needle exchange use of how many people are using steroids. What we do know for certain is that it is a major issue.
“A lot of work is being done in places like Glasgow, Tyne and Wear, Liverpool and London to address the problem.”
Dr Dawson, who runs a Drugs In Sport clinic for steroid users in Tyne and Wear, said: “We had to limit the needles we were handing out for a period as the steroid clinic was cleaning out the supply for the heroin users coming in the next day.”
The Scots clinic, located at the Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre run by Turning Point in the city’s West Street, was originally set up to provide heroin users with free clean needles.
But when staff realised many of their clients were steroid injectors, a specialist clinic was set up for them. After registering 64 users in its first year, it received 149 more the following year and 104 last year. John Campbell, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde addictions service, said: “The clinic is staffed by experienced needle exchange workers, supported by nurses and medical advice from the addiction services.
“The clinic endeavours to keep people such as this as safe as possible and suggest safer alternatives such as diet and training.”
Glasgow steroid user John, who is in his 30s, told us how he took them orally but quickly moved on to injecting.
He said: “Before, I would train one day then recover the next. Using steroids meant I could train very intensively two or more days in a row.
“However, I developed breasts – not just bigger pectoral muscles. There was so much chemical testosterone in my system that my body started to convert it to oestrogen which caused the transformation.
“I have bad mood swings too.”