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Big increase in steroid abuse

April 10th, 2009 · No Comments

MANY more men are ending up in hospital in the region after injecting anabolic steroids in search of the ‘perfect body’, new figures have revealed.

The number of admissions for poisoning from the muscle-building drugs soared has leapt by 81 per cent in just four years in the North-East, from 105 to 190.

The increase was even sharper in Yorkshire – a near-doubling of admissions, from 93 to 180. Across England, there was a 66 per cent rise, between 2003-04 and 2007-08.

Most worryingly, the tally last year included five children in the North-East and a further 18 in Yorkshire. A total of 138 under-18s ended up in hospital nationwide.

Experts say that most of the casualties are likely to be men – and boys – using the drugs to try to emulate their heroes from the worlds of sport and fashion.

Anabolic steroids are chemically produced class-C drugs that mimic testosterone, which can be easily bought on the internet or through dealers at gyms.

Nasty side-effects for men include withered testicles, sterility and breast growth. In women it can be the growth of facial hair. The drugs can also stunt growth in the young, cause liver problems and aggressiveness known as ‘roid rage’.

Furthermore, they are usually injected to increase their effect – which brings the added risk of hepatitis C and HIV if needles are shared.

The growing problem was revealed to Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake, in a parliamentary answer from the department of health (DoH).

It is lawful to possess steroids for personal use, but illegal to import or supply them. However, only four people have received cautions and 14 people been found guilty of supplying steroids over the last five years.

Mr Brake said: “Ministers need to wake up to the fact that anabolic steroids are no longer just a problem that affects sports like body building, but also an issue for the whole of society.

“In the run up to the Olympics, the government needs to send a clear message by tackling those who are supplying these drugs and making possession without a prescription illegal.”

The worries were echoed by DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes, who said: “Steroids may be viewed as offering a shortcut to the perfect body image, but the reality can be quite different.”

According to the latest DoH research, the number of 11 to 15-year-olds who admit taking steroids has almost doubled since 2001, from 6,800 to 13,300.

Last year, the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs wrote to the Home Secretary warning it was “increasingly concerned at the use of anabolic steroids by the general public and, in particular, young people”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The government recognises the harms associated with anabolic steroid use.”

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