Performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs)
Market assessment: MEDIUM with an increasing market trend.
What are they?
The term “performance and image-enhancing drugs” (PIEDs) covers a broad range of substances including steroids, insulin, human growth hormone (HGH), clenbuterol and erythropoietin (EPO). Steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone, and include both anabolic and androgenic steroids (AAS).
The PIED market in Queensland
- The market for PIEDs has continued to grow in Queensland over the past three years, largely due to demand from young males seeking muscular and athletic physiques. It remains smaller than traditional illicit drug markets.
- The use of PIEDs in regional areas of Queensland such as Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone has increased.
- PIEDs are being illegally supplied and obtained over the internet and through distributors within the fitness industry. Other methods of illegal supply include theft and diversion from veterinary clinics and hospitals and from unethical medical practitioners.
- The production and supply of PIEDs in Queensland is likely to increase with growing demand from niche user groups and the increased involvement of organised crime groups..
Organised crime presence
- There is evidence of increased organised crime involvement in this market and in the emerging domestic production of steroids. Organised crime groups are importing PIEDs in powder form and manufacturing the final product in Queensland.
- There has been several detections of “home brewing” set-ups in Queensland in the past twelve months. Some of these operations have been quite sophisticated, with commercial-style labelling and sophisticated custom-built laboratories with hidden compartments.
- There is evidence that outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) members and associates are involved in the PIEDs market as manufacturers and suppliers.
What you should know
- In 2014 anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents were reclassified as a schedule one dangerous drug in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 (Queensland). The penalties for possessing, supplying, and importing PIEDs in Queesland is now the same as heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and methylamphetamine.
- There is growing evidence about the link between PIEDs and irritability and aggression. This was one of the main drivers for the rescheduling of PIEDs to a schedule one drug.
- Pharmaceutical drugs are being used in combination with other illicit drugs to assist with “coming down” or to alleviate the negative effects associated with some drugs. Mixing prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs with other illicit drugs is also increasingly common. However, poly drug use can multiply the effects of each drug (including adverse reactions) and increase the risk of overdose, severe paranoia and other mental health problems.
- The use of some PIEDs over an extended period of time may result in serious side effects, both physically and psychologically. These include liver tumours, abnormal enlargement of the heart muscles, hair loss and acne, as well as an increase in the risk of blood-borne viruses through injection. The use of PIEDs by adolescents can impede growth.
- Some PIEDs are being mixed domestically in unsanitary conditions with unknown cutting agents. This heightens the risk of infection for users.