The growing use of “roids”, synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone, has lead to calls for a public health awareness campaign to warn young people of the dangers and for sporting bodies to support youngsters to find legitimate ways to work on their physique.
Dr Kieran Harkin, a GP in contact with homeless drug users at Merchant’s Quay Ireland said he was now seeing “big, strong fellows” out in the corridor “who say ‘Hello Doctor’ in quite a posh South Dublin accent”.
Dr Harkin said it would be “a good idea” for sporting organisations to start talking to young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids.
Mark Kennedy, head of day services at Merchants Quay, said 11% of males using their needle exchange service were using steroids as a primary drug, up from 7% in 2008. They were aged mainly 18-30 and were not in the typical demographic of those using needle exchange, which tended to be homeless drug users, Instead they “have jobs, an education, homes”, he said.
Mr Kennedy said there had been a “fall-off in the number of young people using heroin” and it could be that roids are the new drug.
Dr John Sheehan, a Cork-based GP, will be raising the issue next week at the HSE South regional health forum. “I will be asking what the HSE is going to do in terms of educating young people about the risks associated with the use of anabolic steroids. I have seen people using them become very aggressive. We need a public health awareness campaign and efforts must be made to engage gym owners in the conversation,”
Lorraine Nolan, chief executive, of the HPRA, said it was “ important for the public to realise that falsified medicines and medical devices pose a very significant risk to their health”.
Dublin-based pharmacist Ann Marie Horan said roids could cause paranoia, impaired judgment, kidney damage, enlarged heart, small breasts and shrinking testicles in men and facial hair and male pattern baldness in females. They could also affect growth and height in teens, she said.