Rising numbers of people are being hospitalised in Ireland for taking anabolic steroids.
The country’s medicine watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), has warned of the dangers of the prescription drugs. New figures from the HSE show the increasing health toll of the drugs. Anabolic steroids are male sexual hormones, and include testosterone, which builds muscle tissue.
In 2005, 185 people were hospitalised for taking anabolic steroids. Last year, this figure had almost doubled to 348 .
The HPRA warned young people against illegally pumping up on steroids.
“These are potent medicines that should only be prescribed, and used, for medical purposes under the care and guidance of a doctor,” said a HPRA statement.
Sports players and body builders claim the drugs help them to train harder and longer and to recover more quickly from gruelling gym sessions. They also build muscle mass.
However, the drugs have been cause ‘roid rage’, making some steroid users paranoid, irritable, aggressive and violent, and induce mood swings. The HPRA said a recent haul of prescription-only anabolic steroids was destined for the illegal performance- and image-enhancing markets.
“These include the body-building sector, where body-image enhancement through the abuse of these medicines is prevalent,” said the HPRA in a statement.
“The medicines concerned were unauthorised and imported for the purpose of sale on the illicit market.
“The abuse of anabolic steroid-containing medicines is prevalent in gymnasiums.”
The drugs are also being smuggled into Ireland’s prisons to be used by gym-going inmates.
Ben Buckley, from the Irish Prison Service, said some prisoners use the illegal drugs to pump up their muscles.
“Hundreds of tablets are being thrown over the walls in prisons,” said Mr Buckley. “The criminal elements have a big draw to the fitness thing. It’s those guys pulling in the steroids.
“Steroids are being used by guys who go to the gym. They don’t realise the danger of them. What is happening in prisons is reflective of what is happening in the streets.”
In young people, anabolic steroids can disrupt body development, stunting growth. It can also cause men to lose hair, develop acne, and suffer shrunken testicles.
Regular users can have trouble sleeping, becoming paranoid and experiencing dramatic mood swings.
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