Sunday, September 17, 2006

Report highlights Britons' drug abuse

The extent of Britain's drug problem was laid bare in a survey which
highlighted increasing steroid abuse among young men and the rise of a
potentially deadly heroin/crack cocaine cocktail known as speedballing.

The comprehensive annual study, from the DrugScope charity, found that
use of anabolic steroids among professionals, construction workers and
students aged 16 to 25 was spiralling as they strive for physical

"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," Drugscope chief executive Martin Barnes said.

Barnes added that many do not consider themselves drug users and called
on gyms and health services to provide more information on the problem,
found in 11 out of 20 areas where some 80 drug action teams and police
forces were surveyed in July and August.

The research says that most people are introduced to steroids, a human
growth hormone which in Britain it is illegal to supply but not to
possess, at gyms and buy them there or over the internet.

Alex Georgijev, a gym owner in south Wales, said that young men are
pressured into believing they need "a six pack and a good set of arms
hanging out of their shirt" by media images.

"People come in and ask how much it is to train -- the next sentence is
how much are steroids: it's their first consideration rather than their
last," he told Drugscope's magazine, Druglink.

Increasing numbers of young Asian men, particularly of Pakistani and
Kashmiri origin, are also being pulled into steroid use, the magazine

Meanwhile the use of speedballs, known as "curry and rice" because of
the colour of the drugs involved, was reported as a growing problem in
eight cities.

Although it is not a new phenomenon -- Blues Brothers star John Belushi
died from a speedball overdose in Los Angeles in 1982 aged 33 -- the
report expresses concern over its increased popularity.

The average speedball, made by crumbling crack into heated, liquid
heroin which is then injected, costs 20 pounds (29 euros, 37 dollars).

A separate, previously unpublished study by Dr. Russell Newcombe, of
drugs charity Lifeline, found that speedballing was the main method of
drug-taking for 80 per cent of 100 addicts questioned, compared to 25
percent a decade ago.

This survey added that speedballers spent 500 pounds a week on average
on the drugs, compared to 110 pounds for heroin-only users.

The findings on steroids and speedballing add a new dimension to
Britain's reputation as one of Europe's heaviest drug consumers -- last
year, it was named the continent's top cocaine user by the Observatoire
europeen des drogues et des toxicomanies (OEDT).

The situation is linked to the consistently low price of drugs in
Britain, where an Ecstasy pill often costs the same as a pint of beer
and a gram of cocaine, enough for up to 20 lines, can be as cheap as 30

The British media's fascination with the tempestuous relationship
between supermodel Kate Moss, photographed snorting cocaine last year,
and Babyshambles pop star Pete Doherty, regularly in court on drug
charges, hints at many, particularly young, peoples' ambivalent
attitude to drug use.

powered by performancing firefox