Last week we spoke to Matt* aged 28 and asked some questions about his use of PIEDs (Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs). PIEDs include substances like steroids, peptides and hormones.
While this is one person’s story, Pivot Point has more information so that you can make an informed decision when using or before commencing using PIEDs.
Pivot Point: Hey Matt, what made you decide that you wanted to start using PIEDs?
M: First of all, I had to google the phrase ‘PIEDs’ because that is not language used in the community at all. In my experience, people either refer to ‘steroids’ or more commonly refer to the actual compound they are using, eg. ‘test,’ ‘test-e,’ ‘deca,’ ‘tren,’ because laypeople listening in probably won’t understand that language, but anyone that uses PIEDs will understand it.
Ever since I started going to the gym at about 20 years old, I had always thought about using steroids to not only improve my performance but to also look fitter. It did take a few years before a friend of mine started his first cycle and offered to order some for me. This is when we started this journey together. We would eat together and train together. Knowing that someone was learning at the same rate as you, made me feel more comfortable. I wanted to become strong, to feel more confident and look good, so commencing steroids seemed the best way for me to achieve these goals.
PP: What age were you when you first started using PIEDs?
M: I was 26 years old.
PP: What effects of using PIEDs have you observed after each cycle?
M: Each cycle seems to be different. Some are too long, some are too short and so the effects differ each time. You can use post-cycle treatments that lessen the side-effects at the end of each cycle and these effects can be brief if you treat each cycle with care and respect. The worst side-effect of coming off a cycle is body dysmorphia. This is when you may lose a couple of kilos but you feel as though you have lost 15 kilos and you feel as though you look emaciated, even though your body looks fantastic.
Body dysmorphia is a condition in the mind and it can really affect your self-esteem, because you’ve spent so many months trying to look your absolute best and you’ve formed that association with taking steroids, so when you’re off steroids, you can feel sub-par.
While you’re going through a cycle, you experience a sense of euphoria, as your strength is greatly increased and your fitness is the best it can be and you feel a sense of achievement not just with your body strength but also the way your body looks aesthetically. All of these effects are obviously enhanced during a cycle, so after each cycle these things will go back to some degree of normal and you can treat it either as a nice break or let it motivate you to work-out harder while you’re off-cycle.
PP: Do you know of any risks associated with PIEDs?
M: Yes, it’s something I talk about with my friends and my doctor and something I remain aware of but admittedly it is something that sometimes I ignore.
PP: How do you mitigate those potential risks?
M: Taking post-cycle treatment is treated as essential for anyone going on a steroid cycle, however at the same time they’re also difficult to get your hands on. It’s pretty easy to find steroids, but tricky to find post-cycle medication. This medication helps your body regulate hormone levels so you can return to as close to a pre-cycle hormonal state as you can (though you’ll feel the effects for a long time). Along with my doctor, I keep an eye on my body’s hormone levels and liver function just to make sure I’m not tipping my body over the edge, so this gives me re-assurance while I am doing a cycle. Long-term risks can’t necessarily be mitigated unless you cease taking steroids, long-term steroid-use will inevitably have impacts on your health.
PP: What are some of the risks you are aware of?
M: So much of the knowledge in the community around steroids is passed on through peers and this is called ‘Bro-science.’ It is difficult to get reliable information as there are no real legal avenues to access performance and image enhancing drugs, let alone accurate information when it comes to the product that you are buying. While you can have a conversation with your doctor about your steroid use, the information you receive may not suit the goals you have set yourself, so you usually reach out to other steroid users which is where you get the guidance around the potential risks associated with steroid use. You are warned about skin conditions, risk of infection at the injection site through incorrect injecting techniques, liver function, early ageing as examples, however there are so many more effects, especially mental health effects which are often ignored when talking about the side-effects of steroid use.
I do know that with continued use of PIEDs, the physical effects will probably become more obvious and I will have to deal with those effects as they occur.
PP: How do you get your PIED medications?
M: Generally through friends and there are always different people you can ask to find what you need. At any given time, there will always be friends making an order that you can join in on.
PP: Where do you go for all of your equipment needs?
M: Needle and Syringe Programs are a great service and ACON’s NSP has pre-made steroid packs that you can pick up with everything you need in them. There are several NSPs around Sydney that you can access most week days.
*Name has been changed.
ACON’s Sydney NSP is currently open from 10am-5pm, Monday-Friday at 414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, but will be closed from 5pm Tuesday 22nd December until 10am Wednesday, 6th January. There is also an NSP in our Hunter and Lismore offices. More information about the NSP is available at acon.org.au.
More information about PIEDs can be found on Pivot Point.
Image: Tim Mossholder