Use of Performance Enhancement Drugs

Subject: Health Care
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 2890
Topics: Drug Abuse, Health, Medicine
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Introduction

Performance enhancing drugs are some of the most controversial aspects of the contemporary world and this is especially considering that it is in widely used to achieve a diverse number of goals. The users of these drugs tend to have a positive aspect towards them because they are considered to be a means towards achieving their goals. This is especially the case where they are under considerable pressure to ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities. Some studies have shown that users of performance enhancing drugs are usually regular sportsmen who, because of the considerable pressure put on them, end up in a situation where they conclude that it would be best for them to use these drugs. In addition, while most of these drugs are readily available in pharmacies, they often require a prescription. A result is that even though they may be available, they are looked upon by most organizations, especially in sport, as promoting unfairness in diverse aspects of life, such as competitive sport. Because of this, there has been wide advocacy for their ban, especially among those individuals that participate in sport. However, there is also an opposing side that promotes the idea that in these drugs are made more widely available to ensure that there is the advancement of fairness in various activities. This paper seeks to demonstrate the circumstances leading to the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports, the attitudes towards them in various countries, and the manner through which their effects have stirred considerable debate.

Attitudes to performance enhancing drugs

The greatest use of performance enhancing drugs takes place in competitive sports with a number of athletes making use of them to ensure that they increase their performance. Individuals in society have over the years come to believe that it is a social norm to make use of drugs such as Ritalin to enhance their performance, especially by students at the academic level. However, despite the use of these drugs by some students in universities, studies show that very few of them have actually made use of the drug named above (Pérez-Pazos, Collazos & Casas, 2015). The use of these drugs in sports often takes place because of the considerable pressure that athletes have to undergo in order to ensure that they not only have good results, but are also competitive in their respective sport. A consequence of this situation is that a considerable number of athletes hold the belief that if they use performance enhancing drugs, they will be able to ensure that they are able to handle a diverse number of situations and challenges in their respective sports without having to endure the considerable pressure that comes with the need to be at peak performance. However, despite these efforts, the drugs that are used in a sporting environment tends not to have the desired effect, especially in instances where athletes place too much faith in them rather and focusing on working hard towards the attainment of their academic goals. Therefore, while the use of performance enhancing drugs may be considered to be a social norm in society, is does not serve to enhance the performance of athletes because the individuals involved in it tend not to realize that these drugs are merely stimulants whose effects are not compatible with performance.

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Performance enhancing drugs are not often used for medical reasons, and are instead gotten over the counter by those who desire to use them. A result is that in countries within the EU, there are a significant number of individuals, especially students, who opt to obtain these drugs without proper consultation with doctors. Some athletes in this society have ended up in a situation where they take advantage of the ready availability of performance enhancing drugs to ensure that they acquire them for their personal use. The attitude towards these drugs, especially in the UK, show that the taboo concerning the unfairness of their use is increasingly being eroded and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a common practice. Individuals in the contemporary world seem to be taking a more relaxed attitude to performance enhancing drugs than their predecessors; a sign that attitudes are heading towards the legalization of these drugs in sport. Individuals in European countries such as the UK and Belgium have a positive attitude towards these drugs in comparison to Turkey, where the approval of such drugs is quite low. The cultural values of individuals in various countries seem to be extremely important in the development of attitudes towards performance enhancing drugs (Schermer, Bolt, de Jongh  & Olivier, 2009). Concepts concerning competitiveness seem to be the drivers behind the high approval ratings that are seen in the UK, while fairness is a determinant factor in the case of Turkey. The achievement of personal goals through the use of performance enhancing drugs is an essential factor in determining individuals’ attitude towards them, and this is irrespective of their country of origin.

The acceptability of using performance enhancing drugs is a feature of what can be termed as changing social norms. A majority of studies, which have been conducted in the United States, show that the number of individuals that approve of the use of performance enhancing drugs is steadily increasing, and this is especially considering that that a considerable number of people have admitted to using them once or several times in their lives (Ponnet, Wouters, Walrave, et al., 2015). Among the most significant considerations when it comes to the use of these drugs in sport is that they not only serve to enhance the performance of the users, but they also play a role in increasing the confidence of users. In the United States, however, the attitude towards performance enhancing drugs in sports is quite negative and this is to such an extent that some athletes have been known to be suspended and even banned from participating in sports events. Therefore, unlike in other countries that were studied, especially in the EU, the United States showed a higher number of people that disapprove of the use of performance enhancing drugs and consider it to be a serious crime. Despite the disapproval that they have encountered, the emergence of the use of these drugs from the periphery into the mainstream is a sign that the taboos that governed their use is gradually being eroded away, and society is gradually accepting these drugs as an essential aspect of their lives. Under such circumstance, it is likely to be difficult to ensure that the argument concerning the use of performance enhancing drugs leads to unfairness because it is the same environment that has fostered competitiveness that has also led to the advancement of means through which individuals are increasingly feeling under pressure to increase their performance.

A study on performance enhancement drugs shows that it is often determine by alcohol use. Alcohol use is an influential factor when it comes to the use of performance enhancement drugs, especially among young athletes. This is especially considering that these individuals are more impressionable at this stage in their lives and feel that they can be better able to overcome their deficiencies through the use of these drugs (Boardley, Grix & Dewar, 2014). In addition, alcohol use makes it easier for individuals to want to try out new substances, meaning that it is a critical factor when it comes to the advancement of performance enhancing drug use. In most cases studied, young athletes are more susceptible to the use of these drugs because of the new pressures that have developed in their lives. There is often a failure to consider that piling pressure on these individuals might have the negative effect of making them to seek alternatives to keep up with the prevailing circumstances. It therefore becomes essential for these individuals to seek out ways to ensure that they are able to cope with the various pressures in their professional lives through the use of performance enhancing drugs. The use of these drugs is not only prevalent in the sporting arena, but also in the workplace, where individuals are often under constant pressure to perform to the satisfaction of their superiors. A consequence is that many of these individuals end up adopting the use of performance enhancing drugs in order to cope with the pressure and long hours that they have to undergo in preparation for the various sporting events that might come up. This situation is a cause for concern in most countries assessed because it shows that individuals are increasingly becoming reliant on performance enhancing drugs in order to undertake sporting activities as well as to cope with the pressures of the contemporary world.

Another aspect of performance enhancing drug use is that despite their being considered a social norm, not many athletes have actually made use of them. Therefore, the perceptions concerning their use is not consistent with reality because while a considerable number of people feel that it is justifiable to make use of these drugs, in reality, their use is quite limited. Social media as well as other means of rapid circulation of information has made it possible for a positive attitude towards performance enhancing drug use to develop (Brennan, Kanayama & Pope, 2013). In addition, it has led to the creation of an environment where individuals have become more ready to make use of these drugs whenever they feel that they have to attain their goals as quickly as possible. These circumstances are a matter of serious concern because they show that individuals in the contemporary world, because of the prevailing misinformation concerning performance enhancing drugs, even though they may not be active users, have developed an attitude that fosters its use. 

Issues involved in performance enhancing drugs in sports

In sport, the use of performance enhancing drugs is a serious problem, especially when it comes to competitive sports. This is because in the contemporary world, winning competitions comes with considerable benefits, including cash rewards and sponsorship deals. The result is that some sportsmen are often willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that they attain the edge that they need over their competition in order to win. The use of performance enhancing drugs, or doping, in sports has led to a situation where it has raised a lot of concern, especially within the public concerning whether it is ethical (Brand, Heck & Ziegler, 2014). Organizations have been set up to ensure that such practices are put to a stop, with many sportsmen and women that have been found to have made use of these drugs being handed severe punishments. Among the most severe punishments that have been meted out have been striping athletes of their medals and also banning them from competitions for certain periods of time. The stricter rules that have been put in place concerning the use of performance enhancing drugs has led to some individuals in sports going to extreme lengths to ensure that they hide the fact that they make use of these drugs (Hodge, Hargreaves, Gerrard & Lonsdale, 2013). However, despite the strict guidelines that have been set up concerning them, performance enhancing drugs seem to continue haunting sports. Scandals associated with the use of these drugs have become more common in recent years than was previously the case and this has been associated with more advanced methods of detecting the presence of these substances in the body. One of the most noteworthy scandals that have come about in recent years has been the Russian doping scandal, which has revealed that the Russian government has been behind the advancement of the performance of its athletes through the promotion of an extensive doping program (Duval, 2017). While the role of the Russian government has been revealed, it is likely that a number of other governments across the world run similar programs in order to enhance the performance of their athletes.

Despite the presence of better methods of detecting illegal substances in sports, there are instances where individuals might make use of these substances unknowingly. The ready availability of over the counter drugs that may contain banned substances in sport has the potential of leading to the unfair victimization of some athletes. The latter might innocently make use of drugs with performance enhancement qualities which, if detected, can lead to a situation where they are led into a situation where they are punished for offenses that they have not intentionally committed (Chan, Lentillon-Kaestner, Dimmock, et al., 2015). The development of awareness concerning the substances that are banned in sport is an important means of making sure that there is a reduction of incidents of the use of performance enhancing drugs. In addition, there are instances where it is essential for governments to place strict regulations on those substances that enhance the performance of individuals. 

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Findings in the use of performance enhancing drugs

The prevalence of performance enhancing drug use is dependent on the prevailing factors in the environments within which individuals live. Studies on various countries, including universities in the UK, Belgium, and Turkey, show that a considerable number of individuals have not made use of these drugs, and those that have are more likely in high pressure environments. The latter is especially the case in universities where students in such faculties as medicine or related ones tend to report higher incidents of substance use in order to enhance their performance. Using these circumstances is believed by individuals to ensure that they are able to cope with courses that are particularly demanding (Helmer, Pischke, Van Hal, et al., 2016). Moreover, an increasing number of athletes feel the need to ensure that they succeed in their endeavors meaning that they are willing to do what they believe will help them achieve their goals. The use of performance enhancing drugs is believed to be a means of ensuring that they are able to cope with the stress that is prevalent when dealing with the tough regimen they go through when preparing for competitions. There are also instances where athletes feel that those that are more successful in the sporting environment make use of performance enhancing drugs. This belief is based on the highly competitive nature of sports in the contemporary world and the different ways through which the individuals that participate in them have adopted to cope with the stress. A result is that athletes might end up suspecting one another of using performance enhancing drugs without any proof that their fellows actually use performance enhancing drugs.

Consequently, it is important that initiatives to bring about an end to such misinformation and to counter it is essential in making sure that society as a whole is protected against the use of drugs that might be harmful to the health of individuals without necessarily providing any tangible benefits. Creating awareness that the use of performance enhancing drugs should not be considered a social norm and should instead only be used on recommendation from competent medical practitioners is important in helping to promote the interests of all individuals in society. This is especially the case where most of these drugs are readily available over the counter; meaning that many individuals take them without necessarily having knowledge concerning their potential effect on them. By creating awareness concerning performance enhancing drugs, it becomes possible for individuals to question whether they should be making use of these drugs themselves.

The easy availability of these substances over the counter should be discontinued because it is a means through which to ensure that there is little chance of use of these drugs in sport without the approval of medical practitioners. The achievement of this goal would make sure that there is the advancement of means through which individuals in sport are not only protected against the use of these drugs, but also from unfair competition from those individuals that are likely to intentionally use performance enhancing drugs to gain an advantage. By restricting the availability of performance enhancing drugs, especially to individuals participating in physically demanding and competitive sports, it becomes possible to reduce instances of scandals in sports while at the same time increasing the profile of various sporting activities. The pressure that is encountered by athletes in competitive sports has the potential of leading them towards the seeking to make use of performance enhancing drugs. It is therefore essential to ensure that there is the promotion of awareness concerning the need for fairness in sports in order for the use of these drugs to be significantly reduced.

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Conclusion 

 The findings of the studies reviewed above show that the use of performance enhancing drugs is an increasingly worrying issue. This is especially considering that there is a widespread belief that most individuals make use of these drugs on a daily basis. While this belief is not based on reality, it might have an influence on an increasing trend in the use of these substances in society. Pressures found in the lives of athletes in their respective sports have led to the belief that it is a social norm for performance enhancement drugs to be used in various circumstances. However, the use of these drugs is not as widespread as it seems, and in fact, very few individuals actually make use of them.

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  7. Hodge, K., Hargreaves, E. A., Gerrard, D., & Lonsdale, C. (2013). Psychological mechanisms underlying doping attitudes in sport: Motivation and moral disengagement. Journal of sport and exercise psychology, 35(4), 419-432.
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