Figures released by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) show anabolic steroids accounted for almost half (47%) of the close to 1m highly potent prescription medicines seized last year.
Of 948,915 dosage units seized in 2017, 450,000 were anabolic steroids, almost 12 times the 2015 amount.
Sedatives accounted for almost a quarter of the haul (23%), and erectile dysfunction medicine for 13%.
HPRA director of compliance John Lynch said they were concerned at the rate of increase in detentions of anabolic steroids.
“They have been linked to a range of significant side- effects including liver damage, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes,” he said. “For men, the risks also include reduced sperm count and infertility.”
Mr Lynch said they are extremely concerned people are “continuing to put their health in the hands of individuals who operate unauthorised supply routes”.
Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay homeless and drug services, said steroids are the main drug problem for up to 400 of those using their needle exchange programme.
He said they are exclusively male, aged 20 to 35, usually from a stable background, and do not view themselves as “drug users”.
He said they take the steroids for image and performance-enhancing reasons “as opposed to looking to get stoned”.
“They are not your typical user by any means,” he said.
Mr Geoghegan said they had looked at developing an alternate needle exchange programme for them, via outreach, but the resources were not there.