Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Warning: bodybuilders who take blackmarket steroids are risking their lives
July 6, 2015
Warning: bodybuilders who take blackmarket steroids are risking their lives

MEDICAL chief reveals concerns over young men who use drugs and unlicensed hormones in their quest to get the perfect physique.

SCOTLAND’S top doctor has warned young men are risking their lives by using powerful anabolic steroids as they try to bulk up their­ bodies. Dr Catherine Calderwood spoke of her concern as experts revealed a growing generation of image-obsessed men are turning to the ­controversial drugs and unlicensed hormones. They said the vast majority of users in Scotland weren’t athletes cheating their way to glory. Instead most were young men ­injecting ­dangerous bootleg substances for ­cosmetic purposes. Health watchdogs say most steroids on the black market are manufactured in underground labs and flogged by unscrupulous dealers and over the internet. Users also inject counterfeit human growth hormone and GHRP6 – a drug that increases natural growth ­hormone levels. One academic revealed that needle exchanges – set up for heroin addicts – are now being swamped by men using performance-enhancing drugs. A GP who runs the service revealed 43 per cent of users took the ­compounds which have names such as Dianabol, Deca and trenbolone. It’s understood clinics in Glasgow and Cardiff have seen a 600 per cent increase in the past 10 years.

Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood outlined the dangers posed by steroid abuse.

She said: “Anabolic steroids are ­dangerous and addictive if used when not prescribed by a medic. Use is linked to a range of side effects that are ­simply not worth the risk. “Regular steroid abuse can lead to potentially dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure, blood clots or even heart attacks. “Infertility, acne, violent mood swings and hallucinations are all also possible results. If you take anabolic steroids, you are also at serious risk of becoming addicted. “That craving of the drug, and the withdrawal symptoms, is equally dangerous and can have devastating consequences. The message is ­simple – don’t risk it.” The drugs were previously only used by ­professional body builders and doped-up athletes looking to get an edge over their opponents. Now frontline health workers and academics say the use is widespread among ordinary people in gyms around the country. The substances – usually injected into the buttocks or thigh – are used help build ­muscle mass, reduce fat and improve performance. But the huge range of side-effects also include liver damage, baldness and paranoia. Abuse can also cause gynomastia – the ­development of female breast tissue. This is caused when the body, overloaded with synthentic testosterone, stops making hormone naturally and creates more oestrogen instead. Professor Julien Baker, director of the research ­institute for clinical exercise and health science at University of West of Scotland, said official estimates which put numbers of UK steroids users in tens of thousands were inaccurate. He claimed the actual number was “hundreds of thousands” and said the use was so high that health bosses should start educating steroid takers how to inject themselves safely. The Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre, run by ­Turning Point, was originally set up to provide heroin users with free clean needles. But a clinic was set up for steroid injectors when staff noticed how many clients used them. After registering 64 users in its first year, it received 149 more the next year and 104 in 2013. Baker said: “People may want to bulk up for cosmetic reasons and as a ­perceived way of ­gaining respect. When people in the past were working physically hard, it led to a good physique. Men want to be admired for their physiques – it’s about appearance perception. “Needle exchanges have gone up massively in terms of steroids – as much as 600 per cent in ­Glasgow and Cardiff. “At the moment, I would say needle exchanges are more ­frequented by those injecting ­steroids than heroin injectors. “It’s a sad fact but, with a ­massive increase in steroid use, we need to teach people how to inject ­properly. We need to teach people the dangers of sharing needles and ensure the disposal of needles is comprehensive and safe.” Fears were also raised about the safety of buying drugs online. A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority said: “Buying medicinal products online is a risk. “Many websites operate outside the legal requirements and you have no idea what you are getting and how it will affect you.” Dr Rob Dawson is a Scots GP who ran a steroid clinic and is now ­medical director at Neca ­substance abuse help group. He said: “There is a crisis of the male ego, in a sense. It’s where the Adonis complex comes in. “It’s about, in part, trying to ­re-assert ­masculinity. We found 43 per cent of ­people accessing needle exchanges were not heroin users – they were injecting anabolic steroids. “We live in a disposable society – this idea of a fast-track to the body beautiful is appealing to some. We are selling this idea to young people and to the most vulnerable in society.” Steroids, also known as roids or juice, are used for their muscle building properties. However their use does not result in increased muscle size and strength unless it’s combined with intensive training and a specialised diet. Dawson added: “Steroids are grossly over-rated in what they purport to do and any percentage gains are marginal. We mustn’t inspire people to use them or to be tempted to use them.” NOBODY’S ASHAMED…SOME INJECT EVERY DAY Stephen’s story We spoke to one steroid user about his experiences. Stephen, in his 30s, from Ayrshire, began taking the drugs orally a few years ago but quickly moved onto ­injecting. He told how they help him boost his physique but left him battling unwanted side effects. He said: “A lot of young guys use steroids in the gym and it’s talked about openly. “No one is ­embarrassed or ashamed about it. “Everyone wants to know what each other is taking and if it’s any good. Most of them are young guys in their 20s and 30s who want to get bigger. Some of them inject every day, others inject every few days, ­depending on what they’re ­taking. “Jagging yourself all the time can get you down but the results are worth it. “I’ve had some side effects like gynomastia and that can be quite painful but it went away. “I’ve heard of some guys who have needed to go for an operation to have the breast tissue removed but that’s in extreme cases. “All these things happen when guys hammer steroids every day, I think. I don’t know if steorids are addictive but I don’t think I could still go to the gym and not take them. “If I stopped taking steroids, I’d probably stop going.” Members at a health club launched by Sir Richard Branson have been left stunned after a bin installed in the male changing area was crammed with dirty syringes. Staff say the specially designed box was installed under health and safety laws for used razor blades. The bin was mounted on a wall at Virgin Active in Glasgow’s Finnieston. One gym member said: “There’s a lot of young guys using the gym who clearly use steroids. “There are more than there were a couple of years ago. Any time you look in the bin you’ll see dirty needles. “It’s better they’re put in a box for sharps than a normal bin.” Branson’s Virgin Group retained a 20 per cent share of Virgin Active when he sold the brand for £200million in April. The chain is one of the largest in the UK and its Glasgow branch one of the busiest gyms in the city. A Virgin Active spokesman said: “We have sharps bins that we have to have on site under health and safety regulations but apart from that there is nothing else I can say. “It is a health and safety requirement for members to dispose of razors and so on – as far as being connected to anything untoward I am not in a position to say.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/top-doctor-warns-bodybuilders-who-6005243