Why do some ex-Service personnel use performance enhancing drugs?

Research into use of performance enhancing drugs

Published on 20 August 2018

A year-long project to identify the prevalence, motivations and mental health status of ex-Service personnel who use performance and Image Enhancing Drugs and Supplements (PIEDS) begins in the North East.

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £42,357 to the University of Sunderland to conduct the study, supported by Finchale College in Durham, where researchers will explore why ex-Service personnel take body enhancing drugs, when they became users, whether that was pre, during or post-service, the processes involved, and the level of awareness users have of the consequences of PIEDS.

Dr Ian Whyte, at Sunderland, will lead the project and the results will help inform the development of interventions and education programmes.

Previous or current histories of PIEDS users within the Criminal Justice System will also be investigated, as will any link between the usage of body enhancement drugs and supplements with mental health and wellbeing of ex-Service personnel.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “It is important to get a better understanding of the reasons why ex-Service personnel take performance enhancing drugs and supplements and how and when they become users, particularly given the negative consequences of their use.

“This research is highly important as for many years there have been concerns about the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport, and more recently, those concerns have transferred to the wider population, particularly to enhance strength and body image. 

“The Armed Forces as part of wider society are not immune to this problem, particularly given their need to be physically robust. We look forward to this research to help determine the degree, if any, of this problem amongst our ex-Service personnel to ensure the appropriate support is in place.”

Dr Ian Whyte said: “I am delighted to receive this research grant to take forward a project in such a developing and important topic. Working with the Forces in Mind Trust has already been exceptionally beneficial, both from a personal level as well as for the University of Sunderland as this is the first time that we have worked together. 

“The Forces in Mind Trust is a very well managed and professional organisation with outstanding support staff.  I have already received considerable support and encouragement from the organisation and look forward to a mutually beneficial collaboration and the development of a long-term relationship.”