'Roid rage' warning: Rise in Irish men using steroids to be 'body beautiful'
Young people 'lack awareness of the life-threatening side effects'
One in 10 adults would consider taking anabolic steroids, a new survey has revealed.
This number rises to more than one in five among the 18-34 year age group who are most vulnerable to "body-beautiful" hype.
More are turning to steroids to get the 'ripped body' look, which features prominently on popular reality TV shows like 'Love Island'.
The worrying findings highlight the lack of awareness among the public, particularly younger groups, about the potential dangers of these drugs if not prescribed for them by a doctor.
Physical effects could include heart failure, liver issues, kidney damage, and infertility, as well as acne and hair loss.
The psychological and emotional affects include mood swings and aggression, or 'roid rage', leading to possible depression, the medicines' watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which carried out the survey warned.
It has now launched a new information campaign, 'Zero Gains', to educate people about the dangers of taking unprescribed anabolic steroids.
Use of the steroids is now increasingly common and has become part of gym culture.
Last year, 449,411 dosage units of illegal anabolic steroids were seized - up from 109,006 in 2016 and 38,049 in 2015.
The research shows the influence of social media, TV and other outlets on people to look a certain way.
HPRA chief Dr Lorraine Nolan said: "Our research highlights the social pressure on young people to look a certain way.
"Young men are seeking to gain muscle and 'bulk up', and whilst use of illegal steroids was previously associated with competitive bodybuilding and enhanced sport performance, nowadays usage appears dominated by the desire to have the perceived perfect body.
"We are looking to change that attitude and to dispel the myth that non-medical use of these products is safe and that users have nothing to lose by taking them.
"On the contrary, young men have a lot to lose starting with their health and well-being. We believe there are no gains from using substances that have been shown to cause a range of physical, psychological and emotional damage when misused.
"The real story is that non-medical use of anabolic steroids can have devastating, long-term and life-threatening side effects."
John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland, said: "While the use of anabolic steroids would have traditionally been associated with improving physical performance, it is clear that they are now being taken for other purposes.
"A core part of Sport Ireland's remit in the area of anti-doping is education and this campaign will assist us in highlighting the consequences of doping not just from the sporting perspective, but also the serious health implications associated with taking anabolic steroids."
The new campaign involves online search, social and digital media in addition to outdoor and in-gym adverts.
A new website zerogains.ie has been launched to provide reliable and trustworthy information on the real risks of anabolic steroid use.
It also provides practical advice to help anyone who is suffering from issues with use and provides details on how members of the public can report to the authorities concerns about the illegal sales and supply of steroids.