Image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs)

This page will tell you about image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs), how to keep yourself safe, and advice for safer injecting of steroids.

What are IPEDs? 

Image and performance enhancing drugs are drugs that change how you look, or that enhance your strength or physical performance.  

There are lots of different types of image and performance enhancing drugs. They include: 

  • Anabolic steroids, which people take to help build muscle or be better at sports 
  • Growth hormones, insulin and other related peptides 
  • Weight-loss drugs  
  • Sildenafil, Viagra, and other drugs used for erectile dysfunction 
  • Modafinil, nootropics and other drugs people take to keep themselves awake and alert 
  • Skin and hair drugs such as melanotan, an artificial hormone used for tanning  


What are the risks of IPEDs? 

The impact of taking image and performance enhancing drugs can be different for different people and for each drug. There are ways to keep yourself safe, but there are some risks involved: 


They can affect your mental health. Some people who use them notice changes to their mood and wellbeing. People who take image and performance enhancing drugs sometimes give confidence and self-esteem issues as their reason for using them.   

They can affect your physical health. They have been linked to liver damage, heart disease, high blood pressure, gynecomastia (growth of breast tissue in men), erectile dysfunction, and more.  

You don’t always know what’s in them. It’s common for cheap compounds to be made up and labelled as other types of steroids. Drugs are often mis-sold or have been mixed with other substances. This means they can be much weaker or stronger than you think. The packaging often makes them look safer and more legitimate than they actually are. 


Safer injecting advice for steroids 

Most IPEDs are injected. Injections can cause injuries and infections if they aren’t done in the safest way. They can also make you more vulnerable to blood borne viruses like HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.  

The best way to stay safe is by not injecting, but there are things you can do to lower the risk of infections and injuries. We’ve put together some tips and advice for safer injection. 

Some of the main ones include: 

  • Always inject into a large muscle, like your glute or your quads. Never inject into a vein or artery. Pull back the plunger a little before you inject to make sure there’s no blood in the barrel. 
  • Never share equipment (barrels, needles, vials, wate, etc). This can pass on infections and blood borne viruses.  
  • Always use new and sterile equipment for each injection. 
  • Keep everything as clean as possible. Clean your injection site and the rubber caps of vials. 
  • Don’t inject more than 2ml into one site. 
  • Steroids come with blue and green needles. Use the green needle for drawing up from the vial and inject with the blue. 

Read more of our advice for safer injecting 


You can also follow this 10-step process: 

  1. Get all equipment ready 
  2. Warm up steroids 
  3. Clean skin 
  4. Draw up with the green 
  5. Remove green end and dispose of it 
  6. Place blue end on syringe 
  7. Insert needle 
  8. Withdraw checking for blood 
  9. Inject 
  10. Dispose of everything in a sharps bin 

Getting help, support and advice 

Advice and support are always available from your local Change Grow Live service. If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, we’re here to help.   

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