Page last updated at 01:43 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 02:43 UK

More Asian teens 'using steroids'

By Gurvinder Aujla
BBC Asian Network

Abu
Abu has been using steroids for eight years to 'look the part'

A growing number of young Asians are using steroids to try and build up muscle and achieve the perfect body, according to drugs workers.

John Bolloten, a needle exchange co-ordinator in Bradford, said the number of Asians using his centre has jumped from about 5% to between 25% and 30%.

While only a small number traditionally used street drugs, they were now "primarily using steroids", he said.

Most anabolic steroids are classified as class C drugs.

The drug increases testosterone levels in the body, which then helps muscles absorb protein and boosts their growth.

Mr Bolloten told the BBC Asian Network steroid users visiting the needle exchange in Bradford were also getting younger.

"It worries us because the people who are coming forward to use needle exchanges are becoming younger, so we seeing people at their late teens to mid 20s - they are forming a big percentage."

Needle exchange centres in Luton have also reported a significant increase in Asian men using their services. They said 84% of Asians visiting them take steroids.

'Look the part'

Abu, 26, from Bradford, said he has a high-protein diet, works out every day and has been using steroids for eight years.

"It's that image, everyone wants to look good, look the part, I always wanted to look good, have the six pack, the biceps and big calves."

He describes himself as a skinny, average teenager who wanted to beef up after seeing his brothers use steroids.

But he recognises there can be some unwelcome side-effects.

"Some of my friends who take them have flipped out and done crazy stuff. It plays with your sex drive, without a doubt, it does worry me, you always think the worst, what if I can't have kids?"

I think if I stopped I wouldn't feel as good or great about myself
Abu, steroid user

People who use anabolic steroids usually either inject a cocktail of hormone growth substances into their body or take them orally as pills.

Steroids are not illegal to possess but it is illegal to sell them. They can have dangerous side effects and cause aggression, mood swings, baldness, infertility and in some cases heart attacks.

Charities like Bridge, a drug treatment charity in Bradford, say most people buy them online, from their personal trainers or friends who have imported them from places like Pakistan.

'Easy fix'

steroids
Most steroids are treated as a Class C drug alongside ketamine

Barry Langleyman, a specialist harm reduction worker at the charity, said there is too much pressure on teenagers to look good.

"They see it as an easy fix, and they won't have to put as much effort into their training. It does increase their performance in the gyms - they can lift bigger weights, their stamina increases and endurance.

"They do work, that's what we are up against - we can't argue, we have to accept they do work."

He said he is worried about the ignorance surrounding steroid use.

"They don't see it as drug use they see it as a supplement to training regime. They will often go into a shop thinking you can buy them over the counter."

Part of the problem is often when people come through the door, they have already started a course, he said.

"The practice around here is people who sell it will give them the first few injections. By the time they come to us, they've spent their money, so to try and pull them back from that is very, very difficult."

But not everyone wants to be helped.

"I think if I stopped I wouldn't feel as good or great about myself. A lot of girls come to you and look at your biceps - it can be quite flattering at times," said Abu.

"If I don't train I get depressed, I don't feel as good. When I train I feel happy."



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