Kaleidoscope need people with lived experience to help create a dedicated steroid clinic
Over the past 20 years there has been a substantial increase in the number of people using steroids across Wales . Wider availability of anabolic steroids and growth hormone have contributed to this increase in use , combined with idealised media and social media depictions of the male physique and perceived pressure to use substances to achieve it . Kaleidoscope Powys has seen a rise in people attending its needle exchange scheme who are using steroids and is concerned about the number of young adults who are
‘ Already in Powys we have launched a new scheme involving service users to work with their peers and the success of this so far has been phenomenal .’
BARRY EVELEIGH turning to steroids for performance or cosmetic enhancement .
There are several possible adverse reactions to anabolic steroid use , including acne , gynaecomastia , liver damage , harms to the cardiovascular system and impact on mood and behaviour . Anabolic steroids are taken both orally and by injection , but unlike many other drugs they must be injected intramuscularly rather than intravenously . Long needles with a wide bore are needed to inject viscous steroids into large muscles such as the gluteus maximus ( buttocks ) or vastus lateralis ( thigh ).
Sharing injecting equipment can result in the transmission of blood-borne viruses such as HIV , hepatitis B and hepatitis C . Studies with steroid users in Sydney and North East England reported that 5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively had shared injecting equipment , while one study conducted in South Wales found that 20 per cent of steroid users reported syringe sharing .
A recent study also found that 8.9 per cent of image and performance-enhancing drugs ( IPED ) users from NSPs in England and Wales had shared injecting equipment . Of particular concern is the fact that 1.5 per cent were HIV positive ( similar to levels of
HIV prevalence found amongst injectors of psychoactive drugs in the UK ), 8.8 per cent had been infected with hepatitis B and 5.5 per cent with hepatitis C , highlighting that this particular group of IDUs is at risk of bloodborne virus infection .
Approaches adopted across the UK vary – there have been some innovative schemes set up including outreach in gyms and specific clinics for those using steroids and other IPEDs . But as most steroid users get their information – and possibly misinformation – from other steroid users , it ’ s important that we give people the right information and involve people with lived experience .
Barry Eveleigh , service manager for Powys , says it ’ s vital to ensure three things for individuals using IPEDs – that they are well informed and can access accurate information ; that no one feels pressurised to use the drugs to look a certain way or improve performance ; and that anyone using or considering using them can engage with health and other services to address concerns and make informed choices .
‘ For us to develop and deliver services that meet the needs of those using IPEDs in Powys , we want services to be informed and designed by people using IPEDs ,’ he said . ‘ So we are trying to establish a group of individuals who can share their experiences .
‘ Already in Powys we have launched a new scheme involving service users to work with their peers and the success of this so far has been phenomenal . Our colleagues in Newport have established a clinic – which opened in 2018 and was the first of its kind in Wales – only for steroid users and which offers blood tests and other tests to check users ’ health . Building on these successes we want to expand the scheme for both peer work and a dedicated steroid clinic in Powys .’
If you would like be involved in helping Kaleidoscope establish services across Powys , call 01686 616810 or email info @ kaleidoscope68 . org
OUTSTANDING PROGRESS ON NALOXONE …
On 4-5 October Dyfed will see the final stage of a roll out of peer-to-peer naloxone training across Wales – the first country to achieve this nationwide coverage . The overdose reversal drug is being delivered to those at risk by people with lived experience of addiction . Funded by the Welsh Government , the initiative has delivered four times as many naloxone kits as anticipated and saved lives as a result . Kaleidoscope are proud of the staff and peers involved in this collaborative and outstanding work .
Remembering David Biddle
We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of David Biddle , former chief executive of Change Grow Live , who had worked with the charity for 21 years before his retirement in 2017 .
His enthusiasm was inspiring and he was quick to embrace the benefits of working in partnership with DDN to examine the challenges facing the sector .
Read a tribute by Mark Moody ( current chief executive and former colleague ) at www . changegrowlive . org
14 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • OCTOBER 2022 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM