Warning over dangers of using body building steroids

Friday, 25 August 2017

The number of South Australians using anabolic/androgenic steroids (AAS) and seriously putting their health at risk is increasing at an alarming rate, tripling over the last 10 years, new figures today show.

Royal Adelaide Hospital Endocrinologist, Professor of Medicine Gary Wittert, said people admitted to hospital suffering harmful effects linked with the use of these substances is becoming more frequent.

“Only recently, a 25-year-old man was in a serious condition in one of our hospitals after he injected himself with the contents of a vial, obtained from an acquaintance, supposedly containing anabolic steroids,” Professor Wittert said.

“In the last decade, the number of people admitted to our hospitals as a direct result of AAS misuse has tripled.

“Anabolic/androgenic steroids are synthetic drugs being used to build muscle and increase strength. They are being increasingly obtained over the internet and there can be no certainty what the vials received actually contain.

“In the early 2000s, admissions for AAS misuse were relatively uncommon. Between 2001 and 2008 there were only seven admissions, but since 2009 we have seen this grow.

“While these figures only represent the people who have been admitted to hospital, we believe there are a lot more people using these drugs without knowing how it can affect them both in the short and long term.

“Injecting yourself with these types of substances is extremely dangerous and when used incorrectly can result in severe and unpleasant reactions.”

Effects of short term AAS use include acne, reduced sex drive, depression, mood swings and sleep problems, but more serious and long-term health issues include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, abnormal liver function, and long term changes in brain function.

Professor Gary Wittert said the increasing use of AAS among young men and bodybuilders is a concern.

“Despite it being illegal to make, sell, or give away AAS, there are numerous websites and online forums selling drugs to bulk up, enhance performance and speed up the metabolism to lose fat. This is a practice associated with considerable potential for harm,” Professor Wittert said.

“With social media perceptions and the growing pressure for men and women to look fit, the relatively easy access to these drugs online makes it a seemingly attractive option for people to use as a quick fix to achieve the look they are after.

“However, nobody can really be sure what the substance they purchase contains, irrespective of what they have been told, and there may be life-threatening consequences from exposure to these drugs.

“The 25-year old who was recently hospitalised has recovered, but the outcome could have been worse.

“It is vital that the public are aware of the risk and harms associated with substances used for body building.”

In South Australia, AAS are classed as prescription drugs and it is illegal to keep or use them unless they have been prescribed by a doctor for a recognised medical condition.

Number of people admitted to South Australian public hospitals as a result of anabolic/androgenic steroid use, 2009-16

  2009-2012 2013-2016
Total admissions 5 15


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