STEROIDS - A DANGEROUS
|The 'body beautiful' image is driving many
Inside Out reveals that image-conscious males
in the North West are turning to drugs in the hope of perfect bodies.
They’re using anabolic steroids -
and it’s for looks rather than sporting performance.
Anabolic steroids were once only to be found around
body builders - now they’re seen by teenage boys and young men as an instant
fix for a designer body.
The NHS in Merseyside says boys as young as 14 are using
steroids to grow faster and bigger.
|"There’s wide ranging effects on sexual
function, libido and actual reproductive function."
Centre for Public Health
Inside Out has discovered the popularity of these drugs
is now more widespread than had previously been thought.
Steroid usage is found across a range of jobs. They’re
illegal to sell but not to use - and demand for them is growing.
A former police officer with a North West force tells
Inside Out how he took steroids for 10 years. He was also a bouncer.
"If you’re bigger, people tend to be intimidated by you,
so basically, they would be less inclined to be violent towards you.
"In their [users] own mind, it’s for their own safety.
Bigger is better."
The Association of Chief Police Officers says they're
not aware of anabolic steroids causing health problems for officers.
Signs of use
is seeing younger steroid users
The first signs of the rise in steroid use have come
from needle exchange centres, such as the Wirral Harm Reduction Centre
Here contaminated needles are swapped for new ones to
reduce the risk of infection. For the first time, the largest group of
new users is not heroin addicts - but steroid users.
Linda Johnson, from the centre says, "We’re getting an
awful lot of is 17, 18 and 19-year-olds, who are using steroids. They
are going to the gym and seeing older men who are using steroids.
"It’s a get quick culture that we live in and that’s
why they use them, I think."
Researchers in Liverpool believe that desire to attain
the perfect body stems - in part - from a shift in emphasis by the media.
Jim McVeigh from the Centre for Public Health has been
monitoring steroid misuse in the North West for years. He's seen the drugs
find new users.
Jim says, "In recent years we’ve seen an increase in
the portrayal of the male body beautiful… this may have profound effects
and cause pressure on males to conform to that appearance.
"Research has shown that it’s only a small minority of
anabolic steroid users who are engaged in competitive sport."
Drugs and crime
Unlike many controlled drugs, steroids aren't normally
associated with crime.
Paul George is a world champion body
builder. He also runs a gym in Eccles, and says if people want steroids,
they are easy to acquire.
"On a Friday night, there will be more people punching
each other’s lights out through alcohol or other recreational drugs than
through taking steroids," says Paul.
"Steroids are normally taken by people who are quite
cautious about what they are doing, very into their sport, very aware
of what the side effects are."
Anabolic Steroids (AS) are derived synthetically
from the male sex hormone testosterone.
There are nearly 200 AS preparations available
AS rapidly increases muscle size.
In the UK, AS can only be prescribed by a doctor.
AS are available over the counter in parts of Europe
There is plenty of medical evidence to show that steroid
misuse can have serious physical side effects.
Jim McVeigh say, "Acne, gynecomastia (development of
breast tissue) and there’s also wide ranging effects on sexual function,
on libido and on actual reproductive function."
Linda Johnson says, "It can impact on your liver, impact
on your kidneys. It can increase your cholesterol and blood pressure."
The true scale of steroid misuse in the North West is
unknown, because not all health agencies monitor it.
Those that have, recognise that every time a top athlete
is accused of doping, non-competitive steroid use goes up - the belief
is if it works for them, it'll work for me.
And the dream of looking good, fast, could yet turn into