Body Conscious Men’s Steroid Risk

More young men are using steroids as a quick cosmetic fix, a drugs worker has claimed. Helen Pickens, manager of a needle exchange centre in Bridgend, south Wales, reported seeing as many steroid users as hard drug addicts.

But health experts say taking steroids, many of which are bought on the black market, could be a health risk. The Home Office said restrictions on steroid availability were in proportion with the scale of the problem.

Helen Pickens, manager of Ogwr Dash in Bridgend which provides services for people who misuse drugs or alcohol, said that around 50% of their clients were using steroids as opposed to hard drugs. “The problem is, what we actually see and have been seeing increasingly over the past 10 years, are young men who aren’t even in competition using steroids just for body image,” she told BBC Wales’ Week In Week Out programme.

Steroids are legal to buy but illegal to sell which has encouraged their growth on the black market. Users are also legally allowed to buy steroids abroad and bring them back into the country, if they are for personal use. Many also use the internet as a way of getting their supply.

But some of the steroids sold over the internet could also be dangerous counterfeits, health experts said. Orthopaedic consultant Jonathan Davies, at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, said the effects of these counterfeits can cost the health service thousands. He estimated that a sick steroid-user staying in hospital for three or four days could cost up to £2,000 to treat.

One anonymous user told the programme there was a difference between steroid use and abuse. “Unfortunately there does appear to be a growing sub-sector of the younger male population that believes they can take steroids for a quick fix, they’re not prepared to put the education and research and learning necessary to do a safe, responsible cycle of steroids,” he said. “In short they are immature and irresponsible, and I would call them abusers of steroids.”

In a statement, the Home Office said the current restrictions on the availability of anabolic steroids were in proportion to the scale of the problem. “However, together with the advisory council on the misuse of drugs – the expert independent body that advises the government on drug matters – we continue to keep these matters under review.

Week In Week Out will be shown at 2235 GMT on BBC One Wales on Tuesday 12 March