The Alcohol and Drug Service (ADS) has introduced a free and confidential service to provide accurate information about the issues around taking Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs).
The Juice Bar offers advice on a range of substances, including steroids and a needle exchange, delivered as a part of the East Riding Partnership, which is run by the Alcohol and Drug Service and Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust.
IPEDs are readily available online and circulate in some gyms. They are increasingly popular amongst young males, in particular, looking for a healthier, bigger and ‘better’ appearance. But the charity believes this is a public health time bomb.
Paul Martindale manages The Juice Bar project. He says:
“People don’t take IPEDs for an immediate euphoria, instead it’s the desire to change image and improve performance that drives use. The downside is that users often become fixated on their appearance and feel bigger is never enough.”
“Many individuals believe these drugs are supporting a healthy lifestyle and with little official help and support, turn to the Internet for advice which does not always prove to be accurate. At The Juice Bar, we provide confidential and expert advice aimed at keeping people as safe as possible and ensuring they can make informed decisions about the choices they make.”
“The aim of our service is to meet people where they are at with their use of steroids and other IPEDs. We are able to offer support with a range of interventions if users want to continue their use of IPEDs, but we can also offer support if they wish to stop their use of these substances.”
“The effects of using IPEDs can be anything from skin conditions such as acne to severe paranoia, and physiological issues including liver and heart failure and in some cases blood born virus contracted from sharing needles and other injecting equipment.”
“It can be difficult for users of IPEDS to access services so we have developed tools to reach out including; Live Chat, which is seemingly the first of its kind in the country, allowing people to ask questions anonymously. Two nights each week, we are available online to take live enquiries.”
“Whilst engaging online we encourage people to visit our needle exchange and offer blood pressure monitoring as well as a range of other interventions that can help people realise some of the potential risks to their health which can impact their future decisions about taking these substances.”
Within all areas of The Drug and Alcohol Service across the East Riding and Doncaster, a critical part of the recovery process is the support by peer mentors who have the first-hand experience of the benefits of the service and want to help others in their recovery.
Jack Baldwin, aged 23 used steroids for three years and says many people become obsessed with their appearance and feel the associated risks to health are worth taking. He says:
“I started taking steroids when I was age 17. I wanted to get bigger and thought steroids were the answer. They were easy to get hold of and users around me gave me advice. I just saw steroids as a supplement which would improve my physique.”
“At the time, I didn’t realise this was feeding my obsession, I set goals to achieve a certain size and when I achieved it, it wasn’t enough, I wanted to be bigger every time.”
“I used for approximately three years and experienced severe mood swings and loss of my libido. It wasn’t until my Grandparents talked to me and said that I wasn’t myself. They were worried about my moods and thought that my physique was a concern – but in my head, I was looking good!”
“After trying a soft approach, my family pleaded with me to get help. I absolutely didn’t want to but went along to my Doctor to appease them. My Doctor acknowledged that I had an issue with the drugs I was taking and recommended counselling.”
“I began meeting the team at The Juice Bar for weekly sessions and unlimited telephone support. I had over a year of counselling and even after this time, I still wanted to use because I hated getting smaller. The psychological pull of steroids is very strong, I was mentally and emotionally addicted, all because of my appearance.”
“I am so grateful to the team for their support. They have helped to turn my life around. I have continued with my gym training throughout my recovery and although my size has reduced, I feel fitter and healthier than ever before.”
“To anyone using, I want to say that steroids and other IPEDs are damaging your health, no matter what you think at the time, they can cause serious problems which not only affect you but the people around you, who love you. It is important to know that the journey to recovery is not a lonely track, you will get support from the team at The Juice Bar they are there when you need them, without judgement.”
“The mental battle with appearance is the main reason I have become a peer mentor for ADS – I want to help people like me, who are trapped. There is so much more to enjoy in life – family, friends, work, relationships! All things no young man should forgo because they want to be able to lift the heaviest weights in the gym. Make that call today, it will be the best thing you ever do.”
The Juice Bar offers free, confidential and accurate advice. For more details please contact 01482 336675 or visit. www.ads-uk.org/thejuicebar
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