STEROID use is at “epidemic” levels among young Territory men, a Darwin doctor says.
Police have made at least seven steroid seizures since the start of October and experts are worried the problem could get more out of hand.
Dr Satbir Aulakh says young men who give in to the pressure to bulk-up with anabolic steroids are could be damaging their health permanently.
“I worry for this younger generation who don’t seem to realise what they could be doing to their health,” he said.
“The current trend (of steroid use) that I see is quite worrying.
“I think we’re in the middle of an epidemic.”
Dr Aulakh said the health impacts of steroid abuse were like a ticking time bomb, that could result in early-onset dementia, heart attacks, mood disorders and fertility problems.
“In some cases (steroid users) will require medical treatment for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“I’ve seen people in gyms with vertinary steroids or pills from overseas, with Russian labels.
“Obviously they’ve been smuggled into the country, but the real issue is that these young guys don’t know what they’re putting into their bodies.”
“In the short term, obviously they obviously get big, and they might have side-effects like acne, but longer term they’ll have issues like hormone imbalance, infertility or cardiovascular problems.” he said.
Vials of steroids and human growth hormone seized in postal shipments from overseas.
Darwin bar owner Jason Hanna said steroid use was commonplace and users were easy to spot.
“They’re so readily available, and it’s an image thing for young blokes.
“(Users treat steroids) as if they’re a moisturising cream.
“If you know what you’re looking for, the physical signs are obvious,” he said.
“In and around licensed premesis, alcohol is obviously involved in most incidents (of violence), and alcohol gets pointed at as the problem, but there are so many other things out there too.”
A study by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has found that in nearly two-thirds of steroid-related deaths, users had been taking a deadly cocktails of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine and cocaine, and that users as young as their early 30s were showing the symptoms of heart disease.
The study also found that so-called “roid rage” was responsible for nearly a quarter of steroid-related deaths, either by homicide or suicide.
Northern Territory Police released details of seven seizures of steroids in October; in all cases the steroids were seized in conjunction with larger amounts of methamphetamine and cannabis.
Detective Snr Sgt Mark Malogorski from the Drugs and Organised Crime Squad said that compared to other drugs, steroids were not a priority but the frequency of seizures was cause for alarm.
“We might be doing a search warrant for cannabis but we locate these along with other illegal substances,” he said.
Despite the frequency of seizures in the he said it was rare for them to actively target the drug, and that they were “not often” the reason behind a search.