Frequently Asked Questions
What are Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs?
Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIED's), including steroids are a large group of compounds produced by the body of all animals, including humans. Steroids occur naturally or can be produced synthetically. Different groups of steroids include corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, androgenic steroids, oestrogenic steroids and anti-inflammatory steroids.
Industry workers (FIFO long shifts, military, security services etc.) athletes, body builders and some people may use steroids illegally to improve their appearance, athletic or work performance. The types of steroids used by people who wish to build muscle and increase their body size are usually anabolic steroids. These are a group of drugs that include the male sex hormone testosterone and its synthetic alternatives.
What else can Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs be called?
Anabolic steroids, roids, gear, juice.
How are Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs used?
Steroids are taken orally as tablets or injected into muscles. Each of these methods can increase the risk and harms of steroid use.
What are the effect of using PIED’s such as steroids?
Using steroids may cause many negative physical and psychological side effects. The effects of steroids will vary depending on the person, their fitness, age, health, amount used and purity and whether the steroid was taken orally or injected.
Risks are especially high for young people. If steroids are taken while a person is still growing they can cause a number of problems including stunted growth. Steroid use can also cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.
While the side effects of steroid use is reversible in men this is not the case for women for whom the side-effects are more likely to be permanent. Many steroids are illegally made and can contain harmful, unknown substances that may increase the side effects. Often black market steroids are designed for animals and some may not contain any anabolic steroids at all.
The effects of steroids on both males and females include:
- High blood pressure and Increased cholesterol level
- Increased risk of injury
- Decreased immune function
- Increased muscle size and strength
- Damage to kidneys and heart, Liver Damage and Cancer
- Urinary tract infections.
The effects of steroids on males include:
- Shrinking testicles
- Testicular cysts
- Reduced sperm count
- Pain when urinating
- Development of breasts
- Decreased testosterone production.
The effects of steroids on females include:
- Growth of facial hair
- Changes in the menstrual cycle (it may stop)
- Enlargement of the clitoris
- Deepened voice
- Decreased breast size
- Hair growth on the back and bottom.
How do steroids affect your mental health?
Steroid use can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.
Can you become dependent on steroids?
Regular, heavy steroid use can lead to tolerance and dependence. People who use steroids may become dependent on the drug and continue to use it despite the side effects and health risks.
Can you get withdrawal symptoms when stopping steroid use?
When a person stops using steroids they may experience withdrawal symptoms. While there is little medical evidence of withdrawal symptoms, anecdotal reports indicate some people experience symptoms including headaches, insomnia, cravings, decreased sexual libido, depression, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, restlessness, muscle pain, anorexia and dissatisfaction with body image.
Will steroids affect pregnancy?
Women are less likely to become pregnant if they are using anabolic androgenic steroids but if already pregnant these steroids may cause the development of male secondary sex characteristics in a female foetus.
Are steroids illegal?
In Australia, using steroids without a doctor's prescription is illegal. It is illegal to possess, use, manufacture, supply, import or trade steroids without a prescription or licence. Penalties range from a $2000 fine and/or a two-year prison term to a $100 000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. Any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, health insurance, credit or visas for overseas travel.
Frequent testing of athletes both in and out of competition increases the chance of athletes getting caught and being banned from competition, sometimes for life.