Scottish Conservatives have warned that the recent incident of more than 1,400 hospital admissions caused by people using performance or image-enhancing drugs in the last 4 years may be the "tip of the iceberg."
According to statistics released by health boards, there have been 1,424 cases since 2010 where people were treated in hospital after making use of substances like caffeine stimulants, anabolic steroids, botox, and diuretics, collectively known as "performance or image enhancing drugs" (PIEDs).
Last year, there were 373 hospital admissions but many in health boards - including both NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian - do not hold this information while NHS Ayrshire and Arran had most admissions, with 450 over the four years, including 92 last year, while there 449 admissions in the NHS Fife area, including 118 last year, did not respond. This suggests that the said the real count could be higher. Last year, there was just one such admission in NHS Shetland to bring the total there to six over the last four years.
According to the new figures, many of those admitted to hospital were under the age of 18 and figures suggested that there were instances of patients being admitted following "abuse of herbal of folk remedies" in NHS Grampian.
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. Carlaw added the numbers involved are just the tip of the iceberg, there is clearly a much larger problem bubbling away underneath. The Scottish Conservative health spokesman added that we cannot afford to be blindsided by this because so much of our attention is dominated by what we would regard as traditional problem drug users.
The Tory MSP said it is important that both performance and image-enhancing drugs and legal highs form a key part of any future drugs strategy in Scotland. He added as a snapshot, this is extremely concerning and he hopes we can take action to see these numbers drop in future years.
The use of performance and image-enhancing drugs was a “concern”, says a Scottish government spokesman. He added the matter is reserved to Westminster while ministers were keen for proper regulations to be brought in. The spokesman added the growing use of performance and image-enhancing drugs is of concern and this is a matter that is reserved to Westminster and we are keen to see proper regulations of these substances.
The spokesman also said we have made a record investment of over £224 million in frontline drug treatment and support services, with £30.4 million of this provided for frontline drug treatment services and support in 2014-15 alone, ensuring that people have credible and accessible advice on drugs to help them make the right health choices. He went on to remark that if anyone does experience adverse effects they should seek medical help immediately or discuss the use of such substances with a medical professional before using.