What are the Dangers of Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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The dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs are well documented. Athletes who continuously seek to be the best and gain an edge may resort to these drugs will little or no regard for the dangers associated with them. Dangers can include changes in body composition, damage to the various organs and systems of the human body, and the development of mental disorders.

In the competitive sports arena, performance-enhancing drugs are a prevalent issue. Athletes are tested regularly for performance-enhancing drugs for their safety and to keep the playing field level for all participants. Those found violating league policy may receive sanctions or penalties.

Different types of performance-enhancing drugs exist, all with their own risks. Some of these drugs may provide short-term benefits, but long-term damage has been reported. Examples include anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, erythropoietin, and other supplements.

Anabolic steroids are often used as a way to build muscle and increase strength. They are a synthetic form of testosterone, a steroid hormone naturally produced by the human body, and available in pill and as injections. The risks associated with anabolic steroid use in men include breast development, infertility, and hair loss. Women who choose to take anabolic steroids may experience a deepening of the voice and an increase in body hair. Both sexes can experience severe acne, hypertension, heart trouble, and an increase in aggressive behavior, such as rage.


Human growth hormone is also used to gain muscle mass. Known as gonadotropin, human growth hormone is typically administered by injection. The risks associated with taking it as a performance-enhancing drug include joint pain, fluid retention, cardiomyopathy, and muscle weakness.

Another type of performance-enhancing drugs, erythropoietin, is more common among endurance athletes than those looking to build muscle mass. The hormone fuels the production of red blood cells and helps improve the amount of oxygen available to the muscles during activity. Typically, the drug is prescribed to help treat severe kidney disease in those with anemia. Used as a performance-enhancing drug the risks include stroke, pulmonary edema, and heart attack.

Athletes may find other ways to enhance performance. This includes taking nutritional supplements and over-the-counter drugs in excess or for reasons other than intended. Several common drugs used by athletes as performance-enhancers include diuretics and creatine. Diuretics can help athletes quickly lose weight, but the risks include dizziness, heart arrhythmias, and even death. Creatine helps provide a burst of energy but can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea, and weight gain.


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Post 6

@ceilingcat - Allegations of steroid use are definitely damaging to any professional athlete. I suppose some of them feel like it's worth the risk though.

I have to admit, diuretics are one performance enhancing drug I've never thought about. Diuretic use in the sporting community doesn't really get that much press time though!

I can't imagine wanting to dehydrate yourself in order to lose weight. Especially when death is a possible side effect! But seriously, our bodies need water to survive. Who in their right mind would think that diuretic use was a good idea?

Post 5

I think one of the biggest dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs is losing your status and reputation. You can be disqualified from sporting events if you are found to have used these drugs. Also, usually when a professional athlete is found out, there are a ton of news articles about it. The whole world knows!

It's really ironic, because most people use these drugs so they can play better. Obviously the physical and mental side effects from these drugs are bad. But I feel like the worst thing you can do to someone that obsessed with their reputation is to take it away!

Post 4

@SauteePan -That is true, but the effects of performance enhancing drugs can be devastating. They say that steroids in excessive dosages can damage the heart and cause high blood pressure. I read that it can also lead to depression and very aggressive rage.

In fact a few years ago a there was a famous wrestler that killed his family and then killed himself and it was reported that he was a heavy steroids user.

The sad thing is that this is not a rare occurrence in the wresting world. There have been others that committed suicide while under the influence of steroids.

There really needs to be more awareness as to the dangers of these drugs.

Post 3

@Lonelygod- I agree with you and I wanted to add that many of these baseball players are risking their health because of the huge amounts of money that they would get if they reach a certain batting average.

It really is a form of cheating because many of the baseball players of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s were the real deal. They did not need any performance enhancing substances in order to set records.

Barry Bonds almost didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame because he used performance enhancing drugs from 1999 on, but what saved him was the incredible record that he had before 1999 when he was drug-free.

I think that there should be drug testing and more enforcement regarding banning these illegal drugs. I think that the baseball commission looks the other way because they also want to see results and everybody wants to win games because after all baseball is a big business.

Post 2

I really hate reading about all of the performance enhancing drugs in baseball. It seems that that whenever I check out the sports news there is another story about athletes performance enhancing drugs.

When I was growing up I don't remember drugs in sports being such a huge issue. Now some of my favorite players are losing their good name just to stay ahead of the game. It really makes me sad that such good players are putting their health and reputation at risk just to be a bit better than other players who are probably using drugs too. I wish they would implement regular drug testing for all players and nip this issue in the bud. Does anyone else think that is a good idea?

Post 1

When I was in high school they were already thinking about testing for performance enhancing drugs in sports. Any of our teams that got into upper level championships were being randomly tested, and I know there was a lot of controversy on the topic.

I say that with how easy it is to buy performance enhancement drugs that parents really need to pressure the schools and government to perform more drug tests. I also think there needs to be more education out there about performance enhancing drugs facts, as most young people don't know that something like steroids can actually kill you. No one wants a heart attack at a young age.

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