ACROSS the UK it is estimated that over 1 million people use steroids in a bid to increase muscle size and appearance in a matter of weeks.
In Manchester the amount of people using needle exchange centres for steroid use has increased largely over the years.
Gary Beeny who works at the Pump Clinic in Manchester as a harm reduction specialist spoke about the rise in people coming to use the facilities for needle exchange.
Gary, who has worked at the clinic for 15 years, said: “Ten years ago only 70 out of the 1,400 people who were coming to us for needle exchange were using the service because they use steroids,
“Now half of the people using needle exchange are doing so because of steroid use.
“Each year the numbers increase for steroid use but this is just a drop in the ocean because a lot of people coming to us are doing so not just for themselves but for their friends too.”
The Pump Clinic, which is run by the NHS, offers help and advice to those who are using anabolic steroids and allows them to change their needles.
It is estimated that there are thousands of steroid users across Manchester using the substance, costing as little as £2 a shot, despite the government warning that they can be harmful.
Over the past year the police in Manchester have made 1,488 amount of seizures on the substance which is marked as a class C drug.
Possessing steroids is not illegal, but supplying or manufacturing these performance enhancing drugs is a crime.
Gary, 45, who sees 200 steroid users a month most of which are men, added: “Our aim is to reduce harm, we supply information advising people not to use steroids, but if someone is determined to use them then they are going to do it.
“Realistically we have to compromise and advise them to take as little as possible as infrequently as possible, meaning that they should only use them for two months with a three month break.
“Every year the age of people using steroids gets younger and younger, most of my clients are 18-25 but I see some who are in their 60’s,
“It’s probably due to an increase in social media and celebrity culture there’s a lot of very muscly role models out there”
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Fitness model and personal trainer Alex Crockford, 25, who has featured on the cover of Healthy magazine spoke about his concerns over the increasing use of steroids, especially amongst young men, blaming the popularity of social media.
He said: “Steroid use reflects our society, which is that people are too quick to find a quick and easy route which potentially sacrifices their health,
“The increase in social media and Instagram fitness accounts is partly to blame because people are looking up to these role models who have got abs and look muscular but they don’t declare whether they use performance enhancers.
“People are naive and believe that they have done it naturally but everyone in the fitness industry knows a lot of these people are using steroids. It’s a misinterpretation and people are getting the wrong impression.”
As steroid use increases eye celebrities such as Spencer Mathews have come forwards and admitted addiction to these substances.
There’s research which suggests that the use of anabolic steroids can become addictive, although this is something which does not have enough research to back it up.
Gary said: “There’s a potential for people to become dependent on steroids but it differs person to person, it depends on peoples personal issues, people can become dependent on anything.”
The rise in performance enhancer drugs has caused major concern for those in the fitness industry, who see a large majority of gym goers turning to the substance to get ‘big’ quickly.
Alex said: “What needs to happen is people need to be educated in good nutrition and good food and the right way to exercise, people need to know that they can get a good body without using steroids but it does take time.
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“It’s wrong that people are lied to by people they look up to, believing they don’t use these drugs when they do, you can’t get from having an overweight body to abs in 12 weeks, but you can do it over time.”
There are between 60 to 100 different types of steroids that people in the UK are using, all of which are marketed by suppliers to stimulate muscle growth, but the potential side effects include hair loss, depression and heart problems.
With the increase of steroid use in Manchester on the rise, Gary urges those considering trying them to put it off for as long as possible.
He said: “If an 18 year old came to me wanting to use steroids I’d tell them not to do it, but if they were going to do it I’d say to leave it for as long as possible because at 18 your body is still developing,
“There’s a lot of natural testosterone still in the body at that age, so I’d say leave steroids at all costs and leave it till you’re older because until 24 men are still developing and their muscles are still growing and getting bigger naturally.”
By: Sophie Flint
The Pump clinic offers advice and needle exchange for those in the Manchester area using steroids and other drugs. You can visit their website for more information.