As the focus on body image grows, more and more young British men are turning to anabolic steroids, according to a study carried out by DrugScope, a UK charity. DrugScope found steroid abuse has become a serious problem in 55% of towns it surveyed.

Anabolic steroids used to be consumed almost exclusively by bodybuilders and sports people. According to this new study, building site workers, students and young professionals, young men aged 16 and 25, are using steroids for purely aesthetic reasons.

In the UK it is illegal to sell anabolic steroids, but it is not illegal to possess them. They are Class C drugs (can't supply but not illegal to possess).

Steroid misuse has many possible side-effects:

Risks for Both Men and Women

-- High blood pressure (hypertension)
-- Heart disease
-- Liver damage
-- Cancers
-- Stroke and blood clots
-- Urinary and bowel problems
-- Headaches, aching joints and muscle cramps
-- Nausea and vomiting
-- Sleep problems
-- Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries
-- Severe acne
-- Baldness
-- HIV, hepatitis B and C if you inject it yourself

Risks Just for Men

-- Reduced sperm count
-- Impotence
-- Increase in nipple and breast size
-- Enlarged prostate

Risks Just for Women

-- Reduced breast size
-- Enlarged clitoris
-- Increase in facial and body hair
-- Deepened voice
-- Menstrual problems

Behavioural Risks

-- Roid rage (severe, aggressive behavior)
-- Mood swings (often severe)
-- Hallucinations
-- Paranoia
-- Anxiety, panic attacks
-- Depression, suicidal thoughts
-- Angry, hostile/irritable moods

Martin Barnes, CEO, DrugScope, says the increase in the number of young men misusing steroids is worrying. He believes it is a response to an ever-growing obsession with the ideal body image.

Barnes added "There are serious risks associated with steroid misuse, but people may ignore the dangers or not seek help because they do not consider themselves drug users. A and E departments (Accident and Emergency depts) are seeing increasing numbers of young people, some as young as 15 and 16, with needle injection injuries. Gyms, drug and health services should provide more information and practical support for young people exposed to steroid misuse."

-- Click Here To See The Report
-- More News on Anabolic Steroids from DrugScope
-- Drugs and Sport - Reading List for Researchers (PDF)

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