Steroid Users Outnumbering Heroin Users at Some Harm Reduction Clinics

  • Tweet

The number of anabolic steroid users utilizing the needle exchange services at harm reduction clinics in the United Kingdom has steadily increased in recent years.  This has forced clinic employees to learn more about anabolic steroids and other performance- and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDs). The percent of steroid users seen as clients has become so significant that some clinics cater exclusively to bodybuilders. Other clinics are gradually shifting their resources and services to better help the steroid user.

Julie Barton, a harm reduction clinic employee, has reported that anabolic steroids are the “number one drug” at the CRI LiftHouse Needle Exchange in Eastbourne (United Kingdom). Steroids are now more popular as an injectable drug than heroin and crack cocaine. The number of heroin users has steadily declined while the number of steroids has steadily increased over the past 10 years.

“It is about harm prevention,” said Ms Barton. “It is important to make sure needles are available and are not shared. We are not going to stop it [drug use] so we might as well make it safe.”

The objective of the CRI Lifthouse’s PIED Service is “to focus on improving the clients knowledge around the risks associated with the use of steroids and other Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIED), reducing the risks and offering advice about alternative lifestyle choices.”

The CRI LiftHouse Needle Exchange provides clean needles and syringes to individuals who inject anabolic steroids while attempting to teach safer methods of building muscle with training and diet.

The PIED Service teaches steroid users safer injecting techniques, information about steroid side effects, how to cycle steroids, how to use selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as Clomid and Nolvadex as well as information about post cycle therapy (PCT).

Alarmingly, the number of steroid-using teenagers taking advantage of the needle exchange service has also increased in recent years. Sixteen- and seventeen-year old boys are admitting to the use of steroids to improve their physique.

The CRI LiftHouse clinic has established a special service for teenagers under the age of eighteen.

Steroid harm reduction services have thrived in the United Kingdom since it is not illegal to possess anabolic steroids for personal use. Unfortunately, most countries where the personal use of steroids is criminalized have not seen the robust development of harm reduction services for steroid users.



Eastbourne Herald. (April 5, 2012). ‘Steroids now number one drug in town’. Retrieved from http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/news/health/steroids-now-number-one-drug-in-town-1-3701974