What was previously a problem among elite athletes has trickled into the mainstream and even teenagers have started using steroids in an attempt to ‘bulk up’.
Last week I worked on a report for Claire Byrne Live on steroid use and abuse in Ireland, and when researching the subject I was totally blown away by what I was reading.
It wasn’t just the statistics about how many people are using them, but also how people who take these illegal substances ignore and block out the negative effects.
I was shocked by the problems they cause too, so in today’s column I thought I would take a closer look at steroids in sport, so that should you know any young people taking them or are thinking about taking them, you can make up your own mind.
Firstly, let’s look at the statistics in Ireland. While it’s impossible to say exactly how many people are using steroids, we can look at the numbers that customs have seized over the past few years and use that to gauge the increase in consumption. In 2014, customs seized 16,000 units. In 2015, that number had increased to 40,000 units. Yet most worrying of all was that in 2016, that number shot up to 109,000 units. In 2015, 348 people were reported to be hospitalised due to steroid use. Those figures scared me.
So why do people take steroids? There are three main benefits to taking these substances: they claim to increase your strength, improve your recovery and allow you to get faster results from your training over a short time. There are also psychological effects when you are on a high, namely improved ego and self esteem.
Even young teenagers can pick up these illegal drugs with relative ease, either online and through dealers that are omnipresent in some gyms around Ireland. The main issue is that in an unregulated market, no one actually knows what is in the product they are taking. There is no guarantee that the product contains what it’s meant to.
Then we come to the scariest part: the side effects. There are many…