NHS advisers have asked for needle exchange centres to be set up across the country in a bid to help protect the huge number of young people who are injecting performance drugs and steroids.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has stated that it is not only the heroin addicts who are in danger of contracting hepatitis C and HIV from the reuse of syringes and needles.
Clinics have experienced an increase in patients who are after the perfect body, or those who are making use of the new psychoactive drugs. An estimated number of 60000 people are said to have injected anabolic steroids in the last year, according to Nice.
During the 1980s and 1990s, when the Aids epidemic commenced, needle exchange programmes were introduced to cope with the threat of HIV infection. Now a new challenge is being faced with a new type of injection user.
Nice has issued a recommendation for the NHS to provide these services at gyms and for it to be active outside of working hours. The organisation has also asked for the development of policies to aid those under 18 or 16 who are making use of injections.
Clinics that offer clean syringes and needles have already been experiencing a different clientele along with their normal heroin users. David Rourke who is involved with Sheffield’s CRI Arundel Street Project, a harm reduction programme, has said that their clinic started as a fortnightly service for steroid users. It then became a weekly service and they now have people walking through their doors seven days a week.
He said that they are aware of large numbers of people using syringe and needle programmes, simply because this group of users do not think of themselves as drug users. He stated that this group of users are generally more sexually active than those using crack or heroin, so they are more at risk to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
He stated that young people were making use of new psychoactive substances to get on a high. The main reason for this was cost as they experience a bigger hit with smaller quantities when compared to other drugs.
Rourke said that it is no longer only competitive bodybuilders who injected steroids. People who want their bodies to look good and people in certain occupations are doing it too, as they want to be at their peak physically.
Image credit: Melissa Wiese