Issued by the News Distribution Service on behalf of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)
Today the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) publishes ‘Consideration of the anabolic steroids’, a report considering the misuse and harms of the substances.
The report was written following the ACMD’s increasing concern at the numbers of anabolic steroid users. Among other findings, the report considers the potential harms to users due to the patterns of use and the presence of substandard and counterfeit steroids in the marketplace.
Professor Les Iversen, Chair of the ACMD, said:
“The misuse and rising prevalence of anabolic steroids is a worrying development. While the health related harms associated with these substances are not as severe as with some other drugs, misuse carries significant risks, particularly for young people whose bodies are still developing.
“More needs to be done to tackle the supply of anabolic steroids and to educate people of the potential dangers.”
In particular, the report notes concerns around the following:
• estimates from the British Crime Survey that 50,000 people aged between 16 and 59 years had used anabolic steroids in the last year (2009/2010 data) alongside indications from needle and syringe programmes of a rise in steroid injectors;
• use of anabolic steroids by adolescents potentially disrupting the normal pattern of growth and behavioural maturation and leading to virilisation ;
• that the majority of users inject anabolic steroids and are potentially at risk of a number of serious harms including blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C as a result of sharing used injecting equipment;
• the ease of availability through transnational internet sites trading in these products;
• that there is no recognised drug treatment provision for anabolic steroid users in the UK; and
• the existence of substandard and counterfeit steroids within the marketplace posing a risk to users’ health.
On the basis of its findings, the ACMD makes a number of recommendations to government and industry bodies. It recommends that the legislative framework should be strengthened, primarily through reducing the availability of anabolic steroids. The Council considers that criminal prosecution should continue to be limited to illicit steroid dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and traffickers who profit from this trade as a Class C substance. It recommends improved intervention and education messages aimed at users alongside this.
In line with this, specific recommendations put forward in the report include:
• further restriction to be placed on the importation and exportation exemption, namely personal custody on importation, thereby making online ordering of the substances illegal;
• efforts to ensure better availability of credible information and advice for users of anabolic steroids;
• greater focus on users who present to Needle Exchange Schemes to assist in addressing the spread of blood borne viruses; and
• improvements in data collection to better inform interventions.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. A full copy of the Consideration of the Anabolic Steroids report can be found athttp://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs-laws/acmd/.
2. The ACMD’s Anabolic Steroids Working Group was set up to further consider the Council’s concerns around anabolic steroid misuse, particularly among young people.
The Group is chaired by Professor Les Iversen.
3. The ACMD is an independent expert body that advises government on drug related issues in the UK. It was established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The interim chair of the ACMD is Professor Les Iversen.
5. For further information on the ACMD go to http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs-laws/acmd/
6. For interview requests or further information please contact Dajinder Rana or Jamie Hamill on 020 7035 3535.
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