Growing problem of steroid abuse in Donegal

THERE is a growing problem of steroid abuse in Donegal, a Letterkenny gym director has warned this week.
Bernard Gibbons, Director of IRL Fitness, was speaking to the Donegal News following the launch of a nationwide public information campaign about the dangers of taking illegal steroids.
Mr Gibbons said there is definitely a problem in Donegal and said steroid abuse in Ireland was now at the same level it was in the UK 20 years ago.
He said: “I have a strict policy that if anyone is caught taking steroids on the premises they will be immediately banned and on top of that I would be encouraging them to get help.”
He has put the increase in the use of illegal steroids down to pressures young men are facing  from images on social media. He said young men are seeing images of “sixpacks and pecks” on the likes of Facebook and Snapchat which is making them feel this is how they should look.
“I can see where the pressures come from. 110 per cent, social media is having an impact. While social media has its benefits for the likes of small businesses in other ways it has a lot of negative effects. Men are probably suffering from what ladies have been suffering from for years, from being told what they should look like. Men are seeing these images and they are thinking this is what I should look like.”
Now aged 49, Mr Gibbons began training when he was 24 in a bid to have a healthier lifestyle and gave up smoking and alcohol. While living in London in his late twenties he researched steroids online as well as talking to a friend who was a doctor. 
Mr Gibbons said the health implications went against the whole reason he started training and said if he was to take steroids he may as well start smoking and drinking again.
“The reason I got into training was because I want to be fit and healthy. I want to be healthy when I get into my sixties. I don’t want to have heart problems. I do see steroids creeping in. We are probably where London and the UK was at 20 years ago and we are seeing more of it. Everything boils down to supply and demand. If there is a demand for it, it will be filled.”
The public information campaign has been launched on the back of a ten-fold increase in the volume of illegal steroids seized between 2015 and 2017. Last November over 1,000 capsules of illegal anabolic steroids as well as equipment were seized in Letterkenny by Gardai and the Revenue Customs.
A website has also been launched called ‘Zero Gains’ which highlights the potential physical effects of taking illegal steroids including heart failure, liver issues, kidney damage, and infertility as well as acne and hair loss. The psychological and emotional impacts include mood swings and aggression or ‘roid rage’ leading to possible depression.
Health problems
Mr Gibbons also warned while people who take steroids may look great in their twenties, when they reach their forties they are at risk of these health problems. Another danger is the pressure you are putting on your back by becoming bigger than is natural for your frame. 
“Even with taking steroids there is no quick fix. Training is a lifestyle. It’s about training four times a week for forty minutes with good active exercises,” he said. 
“When you are 22 you are going to grow like a tree, you don’t need steroids. You don’t even need protein shakes if you eat clean protein like chicken and steak.”
Research undertaken by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has revealed that 50 per cent of people in Ireland are unaware or unsure about the side effects of anabolic steroid use and that one in ten adults would consider taking anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance or gain a more muscular physique. Worryingly this figure rises to more than one in five for people aged between 18 and 34.

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