Cumbrian charity launches pilot project to understand the needs of people using Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs


A Cumbrian charity has launched a pilot project to better understand the needs of people using Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPED) in the county and to reduce any potential harm they might cause to themselves.

The Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) scheme allows IPED users to obtain free, clean, medical grade sharps and provides a place where used needles can be safely disposed of.

People are also given information about how to use IPEDs safely and have the opportunity to talk to a CADAS professional about any issues they are concerned about.

“We are not trying to encourage or discourage use of IPEDs – we are not for or against them,” said CADAS lead worker on the project Phil.

“It’s about us recognising that people make their own decisions and are using IPEDs in Cumbria so let’s support them and try to reduce any harm they might cause to themselves.”

IPEDs are typically steroids which are often used by body builders and the fitness community as part of a culture to build muscle and to be as strong, fast and fit as they can be. “From the user’s point of view, it is about being healthier or looking better,” said Phil.

It is not illegal to use IPEDs but it is illegal to distribute or sell them.

CADAS wants to reduce any harm people might cause to themselves through lack of knowledge about using sharps. For example, they might not be aware of the need to not keep injecting themselves in the same part of their body, about the quantity of IPED to inject and about the necessity of always using a clean sharp and never sharing needles.

Lack of such knowledge can lead to abscesses developing around the injection site and infections from blood-borne viruses. There is also a risk to wider society if people do not dispose of used sharps safely.

The new CADAS pilot scheme is being funded by Cumbria County Council. Individuals can contact Phil, who will give them a code to use on the website The code allows them to order free medical grade sharps from the national not-for-profit organisation to be delivered to an address of their choice and also to obtain some harm reduction advice.

Phil, an experienced adult recovery worker at CADAS, is also able to talk to the individual to ask them if they need any extra support with any issues.

And CADAS has also set up a community IPED sharps disposal unit, where people can dispose of used IPED sharps in a friendly, judgement-free environment.

“We are keen to try to engage with the community in Cumbria who use IPEDs to better understand their needs,” said Phil. “And once we have statistics about how many people we have advised and potentially protected from harm, we shall be in a good position to seek more funding to make the project permanent.”

To take advantage of the new scheme, contact or call >0300 111 4002

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