The use of anabolic steroids is becoming mainstream as young men turn to the drugs to boost self-confidence and improve body image, experts warn.
A muscled body is much prized
The charity DrugScope found steroid abuse was a significant problem in 11 out of 20 towns and cities it surveyed.
The drugs have traditionally been used by elite athletes and bodybuilders.
But DrugScope found evidence of widespread use by young professionals, building-site workers and students for purely aesthetic reasons.
RISE IN STEROID USE
Young people see the drugs as an easy way to achieve a muscled, toned physique, the charity warned.
Supply of the Class C drug, a human growth hormone, is illegal, but possession is not.
Side effects of steroid misuse in men include reduced sperm count, kidney and liver problems, high blood pressure and increased aggression.
Injectors also risk contracting viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and C.
Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said: "The rise in the number of young men misusing steroids is extremely worrying and seems to be in response to a growing obsession with the ideal body image.
"There are serious risks associated with steroid misuse, but people may ignore the dangers or not seek help because they do not consider themselves drug users.
"A and E departments are seeing increasing numbers of young people, some as young as 15 and 16, with needle injection injuries.
"Gyms, drug and health services should provide more information and practical support for young people exposed to steroid misuse."
The DrugScope survey also found evidence of an increase in the simultaneous use of heroin and crack cocaine - a practice known as "speedballing".
In south London, the phenomenon is so common the combined substances are being treated as a drug in its own right.