Harm reduction administrators want to help steroid users but appear to be misguided in their approach.
The Liverpool Council is a strong supporter of harm reduction services for non-medical users of anabolic steroids. It is fighting for funding amid drastic budget cuts for harm reduction. Unfortunately, some council members don’t really understand the real harms facing bodybuilders who use steroids.
Cllr Paul Brant, the cabinet member for health and social care for the Liverpool City Council, seems to have the best intentions. He is unhappy with the budget cuts that will force needle exchanges to scale back service for bodybuilders using steroids and image and performance-enhancing drugs (IPEDs).
Unfortunately, Brant is using the language of scaremongering to advocate on behalf of harm reduction. Brant has warned that more bodybuilders “over-dose” on steroids and “lose limbs” in the absence of harm reduction services. He has also warned the reduction in services may result in bodybuilders getting HIV and hepatitis because they may start sharing needles with their friends to inject steroids.
Steroid users with lost limbs and HIV and over-doses. Say what?
“With steroids, the risks of budget issues means we could see people sharing needles, which could bring about blood-born viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C and other infections,” Brant recently stated. “If you don’t know how to inject safely you can get wounds, you can lose limbs and you could over-dose.”
Steroid users are not dying from overdosing. They are not losing limbs. They are not sharing needles with their buddies in the gym.
If steroid users are unable to obtain needles and syringes from harm reduction clinics, they will simply buy the supplies themselves.
The Liverpool Council even noted that most steroid users represent an entirely different demographic than psychoactive drug users. The most obvious difference is that they are goal-oriented and gainfully employed with a stable housing situation. They are not destitute and living on the streets like most of the psychoactive drug users.
Steroid users have no problem buying their own supplies before engaging in the needle sharing behavior seen with psychoactive drug addicts.
Steroid users really need more medical supervision, such a blood testing services and side effects management, as a component of harm reduction tailored specifically to their needs.
Harm reduction administrators must stop approaching steroid users using the same framework used to treat psychoactive drug users.
Thorp, L. (October 27, 2019). Liverpool’s steroid crisis and the worrying consequences for men trying to get the perfect body. Retrieved from liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpools-steroid-crisis-worrying-consequences-17142830