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Last updated : May 8, 2019
Performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) are substances taken by people with the intention of changing their physical appearance and to enhance their sporting performance.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic hormones that imitate male sex hormones, specifically testosterone. They can be taken either as an injection or as a tablet. Steroids are used due to their anabolic effects that assist in the growth and repair of muscle tissue.1
Peptides stimulate the release of human growth hormone, which has an important role in muscle and bone growth. Peptides have become increasingly popular among professional and amateur athletes as they are hard to detect due to how quickly they are absorbed by the body.2
Hormones are chemicals released by the body. For example, the pituitary gland naturally releases growth hormone which tells bones and muscles to grow and repair. There are numerous artificial hormones and hormone stimulating drugs available in the PIEDs market.2 These include:
For most people who use PIEDs, body image is the main motivation for use. Due to desirable effects on physique, and improved self-esteem and confidence, people who use these drugs can develop a psychological dependence.4 However, for professional athletes it is the advantage in physical strength and size that is the main reason for use.
The expected benefits of using these substances may include:
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk – even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It is important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
The harms associated with PIEDs, depend on the type of drug being used: different categories of drugs have different harms, though there are a few shared harms.
If PIEDs are injected, there is an increased risk of:
If sharing needles with other people, there is an increased risk of:
People who use steroids should be aware of a number of negative physical, psychological and behavioural side effects including:
Reported side effects of peptides and hormones include:
As a number of synthetic peptide hormones are experimental or not yet approved for human use, it is difficult to pinpoint the specific harms they may cause.2
It is important to note that many of these drugs do have legitimate, medical uses when they are prescribed and supervised by a medical professional.
acne, assist growth and repair of muscle, assist in bone growth, depression, gynaecomastia, hair loss, increase strength and endurance, increased aggression, prostate problems, recover from injury, reduce body fat, shrinking testicles.