Tuesday 08 August 2017
A new campaign aimed at highlighting the risks of Anabolic Steroids is being rolled out in Guernsey.
The Misuse of Drugs Advisory Group is working alongside local gyms to actively target people who are taking or considering taking performance or image enhancing drugs.
Drug and Alcohol Strategy Coordinator, Andrea Nightingale said:
'The public awareness campaign has been launched to engage with the fitness centres. We are encouraging them to display posters to educate gym users on the potential effects, risks and consequences of taking these substances.'
Anabolic Steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone.
They are different from Corticosteroids (also referred to by healthcare professionals as Steroids) which are prescribed to fight inflammation and are used to treat symptoms such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and eczema.
Anabolic Steroids are man-made versions of testosterone, a male sex hormone that helps build bigger muscles. They are classified as Class C drugs, and can only be sold by pharmacists with a prescription. Illegal importation of Anabolic Steroids in Guernsey can result in a prison sentence of up to 4 years, depending on the amounts involved.
Steroid misuse can result in many side effects, as the Deputy Director of Public Health, Nikki Brink explained:
'Anabolic Steroids that are taken to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance can cause serious health problems leading to potentially dangerous medical conditions such as high blood pressure, blood clots and heart attacks.
'Other effects in men include a reduced sperm count, infertility and shrunken testicles. Men using Anabolic Steroids can also develop breasts and severe acne. In women, they can cause a number of physical changes, including growth of facial and body hair, loss of breasts and a deepened voice.
'The psychological effects can also include aggressive or manic behaviour, mood swings, hallucinations and delusions. Like many other substances, anabolic steroids are addictive. I would encourage anyone who would like any further advice or help to contact their GP or Drug Concern.'
Drug Concern reported a spike in users accessing the Guernsey Needle Exchange last year which was directly connected to steroid abuse. It's a trend which being seen increasingly across the UK, particularly among gym-going men seeking instant results. Anabolic Steroids increase muscle mass and decrease fat, but, when taken over a prolonged period of time can develop into a dangerous drug habit.
'There is no suggestion that the market in Guernsey is any different to that in the UK' said Rebecca Falla, Senior Investigation Officer, Guernsey Border Agency.
'11 seizures of tablets and vials were made last year and so far in 2017 there has been 5, some of which are still being analysed. Tablets and vials are often imported together, so it would appear that they are not destined for separate markets.'
The Guernsey Sports Commission is supporting the awareness campaign. Operations Director, Graham Chester said:
'We would strongly advise against anybody considering taking any Anabolic Steroid because of all of the reasons stated above and also, for those involved in sport, taking Anabolic Steroids is a doping offence. If an athlete gets caught, it can result in up to a four year ban from all sports.'
Like many other substances, Anabolic Steroids are addictive and the DAS is concerned they may be increasingly seen as a quick-fix solution. Andrea Nightingale said:
'Many people would traditionally associate a toned physique with a fit and healthy individual, but if those results have been achieved by taking steroids, as opposed to putting in significant hours and work within the gym, then we want people to be aware of the risks they are taking.'