Problem of performance enhancing drugs exposed

28 Dec 2014

Jackson Carlaw MSP

Nearly 1500 people in Scotland have been hospitalised after taking drugs used for performance or image enhancing (PIEDs) in the last four years.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed there were 1424 admissions since 2010 for substances like anabolic steroids and caffeine stimulants.

Last year alone, 373 were admitted for using PIEDs – with health chiefs saying around one in 10 people seeking help for addiction do so for such substances.

And the true admissions figure is likely to be much higher as major health boards like NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian did not hold the relevant information.

Of the boards which did respond, NHS Fife had the most admissions with 118 last year, followed by NHS Ayrshire and Arran with 92.

Many of those admitted were under the age of 18, while in NHS Grampian, there were instances of patients being admitted following “abuse of herbal of folk remedies”.

The scale of the numbers involved shows the challenge posed by people attempting to improve their own appearance or physical performance through medication.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said:

“We are seeing a series of new challenges being posed to the NHS by not only legal highs, but drugs used to enhance image and performance.

“The numbers involved are just the tip of the iceberg, there’s clearly a much larger problem bubbling away underneath.

“We can’t afford to be blindsided by this, because so much of our attention is dominated by what we would regard as traditional problem drug users.

“It’s important that both performance and image enhancing drugs and legal highs form a key part of any future drugs strategy in Scotland.

“As a snapshot, this is extremely concerning, and I hope we can take action to see these numbers drop in future years.”

Notes to editors:
Below is the four year breakdown of PIED admissions across Scotland:
NHS Ayrshire and Arran – 450 (92 last year)
NHS Borders – 76 (20 last year)
NHS Dumfries and Galloway – do not hold information
NHS Fife – 449 (118 last year)
NHS Forth Valley – 70 (no figures for last year)
NHS Grampian – 7 (no figures for last year)
NHS Glasgow – do not hold information
NHS Highland – do not hold information
NHS Lanarkshire – 144 (58 last year)
NHS Lothian – did not hold information
NHS Shetland – 6 (one last year)
NHS Tayside – 206 (79 last year)
NHS Western Isles – 16 (five last year)
Total – 1424 (373 last year)
For full copies of the FoI responses, contact the Scottish Conservatives press office.
Below is the question asked to all health boards:
Dear Sir/Madam,
Please find below a request under the Freedom of Information act, along with my contact details.
In the past three years, could you tell me how many patients in your area have been admitted to hospital after taking performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs). Could this be broken down by i) year ii) type of drug and iii) age group of patient.
Below is a list of drugs I would like you to consider as examples of PIEDs as part of the response.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS)
Stimulants (ephedrine, caffeine etc)
Insulin/IGF 1/Daonil
Human Growth Hormone (hGH)
Beta Blockers
Oestrogen antagonists
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Erythropoietin (EPO)
Health chiefs say around one in 10 of those seeking help with addiction do so on the basis of a PIED addiction: