Performance- and image-enhancing drug use in the community: use prevalence, user demographics and the potential role of wastewater-based epidemiology

Katja M. Shimko, Timothy Piatkowski, Kevin V. Thomas, Naomi Speers, Lance Brooker, Ben J. Tscharke, Jake W. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Performance- and image-enhancing drug (PIED) misuse is a significant public health issue. Currently, seizure data, surveys, anti-doping testing, and needle service provider data are used to estimate PIED use in populations. These methods are time consuming, single point-in-time measurements that often consist of small sample sizes and do not truly capture PIED prevalence. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been used globally to assess and monitor licit and illicit drug consumption within the general community. This method can objectively cover large populations as well as specific subpopulations (gyms, music festivals, prisons), and has potential as a complementary monitoring method for PIED use. Information obtained through WBE could be used to aid public health authorities in developing targeted prevention and education programmes. Research on PIED analysis in wastewater is limited and presents a significant gap in the literature. The focus is on anabolic steroids, and one steroid alternative currently growing in popularity; selective androgenic receptor modulators. This encompasses medical uses, addiction, prevalence, user typology, and associated public health implications. An overview of WBE is described including its benefits, limitations and potential as a monitoring method for PIED use. A summary of previous work in this field is presented. Finally, we summarise gaps in the literature, future perspectives, and recommendations for monitoring PIEDs in wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126340
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Volume419
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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