Effects of Appearance- and Performance-Enhancing Drugs on Personality Traits

Effects of Appearance- and Performance-Enhancing Drugs on Personality Traits / Simona Zaami, Adele Minutillo, Ascanio Sirignano, Enrico Marinelli. - (Frontiers in Psychiatry 12 (2021) 730167 (24 September); p. 1-7) 

  • PMID: 34630182
  • PMCID: PMC8497711
  • DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.730167


Appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs (APEDs) are commonly used by adolescents and young adults in an effort to improve not only athletic performance but also physical and mental efficiency and sexual appearance. The rationale for using these drugs is grounded in the perceived importance of external appearance, the quest for health and youth, and the urge to boost one's sexual performances. Although APED users tend to be quite moderate overall, some specific subpopulations can display pathological use associated with high-risk behaviors. A wide and diverse range of APEDs is now easily accessible to almost anyone through backdoor online avenues. Common APEDs include anabolic-androgenic steroids, non-steroidal anabolics, anorectics, diuretics and ergo/thermogenics, nootropics or "cognition enhancers," licit and illicit psychostimulants, and finally, sexual enhancers. The use of APEDs appears linked to several psychopathological disorders of unclear prevalence, e.g., body image disorders and eating disorders, perfectionism, but also depression and loneliness. The role of personality traits related to APED use has been investigated in adolescents and young adults, in elite and amateur athletes, and in chemsexers and associated with the above-reported personality traits. The studies herein analyzed show that APED consumption in the general population is quickly growing into a public health concern. It is therefore essential to launch prevention and intervention projects aimed at promoting safe instrumental use of the body, not only in sports disciplines but also among the general population, and to promote psychological aid procedures for people with substance use issues, depression and anxiety, and body image disorders.

Original document


24 September 2021
Marinelli, Enrico
Minutillo, Adele
Sirignano, Ascanio
Zaami, Simona
Other organisations
Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) - Italian National Institute of Health
Sapienza Università di Roma - Sapienza University of Rome
Università degli Studi di Camerino - University of Camerino
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
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Health effects
Mental disorders
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Scientific article
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Date generated
7 October 2021
Date of last modification
2 December 2021
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