Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for National Drugs Strategy, Jack Chambers TD has warned that the Minister must pay heed to the worrying increase in the trend of anabolic steroids use, particularly among young males.

In Ireland it is illegal to procure anabolic steroids without a prescription or from anywhere other than a pharmacy. According to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), anabolic steroids were one of the most popular illegal drugs seized in Ireland last year after their number increased significantly from 38,049 units to 109,006.

Commenting on the issue Deputy Chambers said, “Although this problem has grown recently, it’s not new. With the rise of social media, people feel under ever more pressure to conform to a contrived, idealised picture of how men and women should look.

“This has led to an increase in those who are prepared to inject anabolic steroids to help them sculpt perfect bodies. Steroid use is often mistaken as a fit & healthy habit, in reality it’s anything but.

“Those that are sourcing these products are either unaware of or ignoring the significant dangers posed by abusing these substances. The wide range of side effects can manifest in physical, psychological and behavioural problems. The misuse of anabolic steroids has been linked to a range of significant side effects including blood clots, headaches, depression, irritability and stomach pain.

“Merchants Quay Ireland, which runs one of the largest needle-exchange operations in the capital, reported a rise in the number of users of performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) presenting at Irish drug treatment services over the past two years,” he added.

“Those that are hooked on steroids may not present like other chaotic drug addicts but it is in addiction in the very same sense. It is difficult to reach this group as they often don’t see themselves as IV drug users but are in fact exposed to the same risk of blood-borne disease.

“It is deeply worrying that people are still sourcing prescription drugs from illegal sources. Just last week, a joint operation between An Garda Síochana, Revenue and the HPRA saw the seizure of over 60,000 vials labelled as anabolic steroids in Donegal.

“While a HSE policy on prevention and education for steroid use does exist, prevention and harm reduction measures lag far behind those for alcohol and other illicit drugs. The government needs to address this rapidly growing problem and include steroid use in health interventions,” concluded the Deputy.