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Gloucester: Steroid city where young men take 'incredible hulk' bodybuilding drugs

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

By Nick Webster

  • Steroid abuse is rocketing in Gloucester

  • Dr Ann Redgrave

  • Syringes being handed out to users

Comments (19)

Rampant steroid abuse among young men in Gloucester is creating a new generation of artificially enhanced ‘monsters’, it has been claimed.

Steroids are just a quick phone call away from most users according to one personal trainer in the city, who said the surge in people turning to the drug will have long term implications for a generation of young people.

In pursuit of the ultimate physique, a new batch of young bodybuilders have turned to steroids, injecting themselves before or after a heavy weight lifting session.

But many are doing it despite the potentially deadly side effects which include infertility, baldness and psychosis.

In just one Stroud Road needle exchange centre, more than 50 syringe packs are handed out weekly, with most used for steroids.

A personal trainer, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Steroids are everywhere in Gloucester. I can pick up the phone and have a delivery within ten minutes. Twenty years ago it was an underground industry and it was obvious to recognise those taking them.

“Users had all the signs, bad skin, aggression and looked as though they had been blown up by a foot pump.

“Now, a chemistry graduate can knock up steroids for his own personal use, or to sell. It is everywhere.

“Steroids are dangerous. You are putting something in to your body that has been created in a laboratory. It will have long term implication for this generation of young people who want to look a certain way.”

Conservative estimates from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggest 59,000 people aged 16-59 are using steroids in England and Wales.

It suggests outreach programmes should be set up in gyms to try to warn users of the dangers.

Speaking at a sport seminar at the University of Gloucestershire, GB Olympic rowing doctor Dr Ann Redgrave fears the trend could have huge health implications in future.

“If you have a young rugby player, rower or young school lad in gyms and they see steroids being used, it has a dangerous effect,” she said.

“Steroids today are very different to the steroids of 20 years ago. They are even more potent now. Who knows what will happen in future. Bodybuilders who are so open about their steroid use create a massive problem for others. It is a striking statistic to hear we have more anabolic steroids users in this country than drug addicts.”

Pharmacists in Stroud Road are handing out more than 50 safe syringe packs a week, many to steroid users as young as 18.

Fresh guidance by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence said needle and syringe programmes, set up in the 1980s and 1990s to stem the spread of HIV, should also make sure steroid users have the sterile equipment needed to prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses like hepatitis.

Steroids have become so widespread some gyms have resorted to offering ‘under the counter’ sharp bins so users can dispose of dirty needles after a workout, it has been claimed.

Pharmacist Dhiran Vadhia, pictured, manages a needle exchange centre in Stroud Road. He hands out free NHS packs in two sizes with one millimetre needles for recreational drugs and the two millimetre packs used for steroids.

“We have seen a big increase in the number of packs given out for sport rather recreational drugs,” he said.

“We are trained up to give advice on how to safely inject and we also provide the bins for old needles. We want them to bring the old needles back so they are not left lying around. People can also get skin complaints and infections from injecting.

“A lot more young people are coming in for these packs now, there has been a big rise in 18-24 year olds who are using them. Not everyone knows where we are, but we still send out more than 50 of these packs a week. There are five other exchange centres in Gloucester, they will be seeing similar numbers I’m sure. Young people need to be aware of the risks of injecting. We find people take them away but don’t always bring the needles back.

“They are saying that some gyms now have their own black boxes so people can dispose of their needles safely there.”

Anabolic steroids can only be sold by pharmacists with a doctor’s prescription.

It’s legal to possess or import steroids as long as they’re for personal use. Possession or importing with intent to supply is illegal and could lead to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Steroids: The dangers

Increased risk of developing prostate cancer

Reduced sperm count or infertility

Shrunken testicles

Baldness

Breast development in men

Splayed teeth and overgrowth of the forehead giving an ‘incredible hulk’ appearance

Severe acne

Psychosis

Read more from Gloucester Citizen

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19 comments

  • OddVoice  |  October 28 2014, 6:46AM

    Why is nothing being done by the authorities to target the gym's owners that encourage drug use to line their own pockets, regardless of the damage they are doing, we all know who they are in Gloucester so surely the police must.

  • Gangrell  |  April 22 2014, 8:03PM

    Peter_Parker... the steroids used in medicine are exactly the same as the steroids used in bodybuilding. If a doctor places you on TRT, you will be using testosterone cypionate, which is a standard base hormone most bodybuilders use. Now the dose will be different and the purity / potency of the hormone from an underground source? Sure you could question that. However to think that the only steroid a doc would prescribe would be corticosteroids shows a vast lack of education on the topic.

    |   1
  • Gangrell  |  April 22 2014, 7:55PM

    So according to this hack piece baldness is deadly?

    |   1
  • Naz1991  |  April 11 2014, 5:04PM

    Such an over exaggeration "creating a new generation of artificially enhanced 'monsters'. Scientifically steroids is not as bad as alcohol and smoking but people do that everyday because that's the norm in society. If you think otherwise go and do some proper research and not believe everything you see in the media. The use of steroid is fine if you don't over do it like any other drug or medication, simple. Plus it also depends on how your body reacts to it, not everyones the same so Peter Parker saying steroids will leave you confused etc is just ignorant.

    |   1
  • IsitJimKerr  |  April 10 2014, 5:58PM

    Peter_Parker........accepting all of that, why do 'they' do it? And why should I pay if it goes t!ts up?

  • Pegasus81  |  April 10 2014, 4:49PM

    You're not speaking from any experience Peter, nor am I desperate to defend steriod use, if you read my post below its more the portrayal than the acceptance of use which is my issue. I'm more than happy for you to bore me with science rather than you just to refer me to google.

  • Peter_Parker  |  April 10 2014, 4:26PM

    Pegasus81 - Any medical source will show you that anabolic and corticosteroids are different. I'm not going to bore everyone with a science lesson, but you may want to Google it, and learn something. You're clearly too close to the subject matter in your desperation to defend it. If using anabolic steroids didn't affect anyone else then I'd say fine, get on with it and do what you like to your body. But when the long term damage has occurred and your genitals have shrivelled up, you are suffering from depression, rage and psychosis etc you will expect the NHS to treat you. All because you wanted to look good in the mirror (or for other men at the gym!).

    |   -24
  • Pegasus81  |  April 10 2014, 3:50PM

    i think people need to understand that steriod users aren tlooking for peoples acceptance or suppourt, people just want to be able to get on with their life and their interests in piece without being portrayed as something they are not which is my main issue with articles like this. Its not a genuine reflection of a steriod user just a slap dash hatchet job to poor scorn on a subject most people now very little about!

  • Pegasus81  |  April 10 2014, 3:47PM

    @Peter_Parker how are they different? I'd be interested to know your source? "people end up physically and mentally wrecked" what people are you speaking of here, do you have a working case example or is this just a sweeping statement. What problems occur, please give me an example of what you mean, so many damaging and sweeping statements being thrown out by people on this subject yet with no evidence to back it up!

  • Peter_Parker  |  April 10 2014, 3:18PM

    Pegasus81 - the steroids used in medicine and the anabolic steroids used in body building are very different and to put them under the same umbrella is dangerous and could scare off people who might need to use the life-saving medical steroids. Both have side effects but the medical use is usually monitored and tailored to each patient. Self-administration of anabolic steroids is where the problems occur and people end up physically and mentally wrecked because of it.

    |   -20

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