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Human Enhancement Drugs

Human Enhancement Drugs is a new section of the Harm Reduction Journal that will focus on a diverse range of substances used by varying populations with different motivations for enhancement. Once the domain of the elite athlete, the use of human enhancement drugs now represents a challenge to public health and reflects a society that expects “a pill for every ill” and for some, the aim to be “better than well”. Topics for inclusion within this section will include the established categories of Human Enhancement Drugs:

  • Structure and function of muscle e.g. anabolic steroids and growth hormones to increase lean muscle mass;
  • Weight loss e.g. rimonabant or sibutramine to suppress appetite, 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) to burn fat;
  • Cosmetic appearance of the skin and hair e.g. mercury containing creams for skin lightening, melanotan II for an all year tan;
  • Sexual behaviour and function e.g. sildenafil to improve erection and bremelanotide to increase desire;
  • Cognitive function e.g. methylphenidate and modafinil to improve concentration and learning; and,
  • Mood and social behaviours e.g. paroxetine and fluoxetine to feel ‘better than well’.

However, the section will look beyond these categories to new and emerging drugs used for enhancement purposes, such as micro-dosing and the use of established psychoactive or psychedelic drugs. There is a blurring of the lines between the use of drugs for enhancement purposes, therapeutic use and the use of psychoactive drugs for pleasure. These are area that are currently under researched and would be welcomed within this section.

The journal is interested in a broad range of submissions that will inform harm reduction in relation to human enhancement drugs. These may include (but are not limited to) papers that improve our understanding of the drugs being used, the populations that use enhancement drugs, how and why they use these drugs, both the positive and negative drug effects, and the wider public health implications. There is a dearth of evidence surrounding effective interventions to reduce the harm associated with this form of drug use and we would welcome papers that look to evaluate initiatives to reduce harm. While human enhancement drug use is no longer confined to competitive athletes, sports doping remains a significant issue and we would welcome papers on this topic that focus on the reduction of harm to the sports participant or wider society.

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Section Editor

Jim McVeigh

An image of co-section editor for human enhancement drugs: Jim McVeighProfessor Jim McVeigh holds the post of Professor in Substance Use and Associated Behaviours in the Department of Criminology & Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to this he was the Director of the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University. He has worked within health/public health for over 30 years; initially as a Registered General Nurse working with people who inject drugs, before moving into academia.  Jim has built an international reputation within the field of human enhancement drug use, in particular, the use of anabolic steroids and associated drugs within the general population.

He has published extensively on the topic and presented at many influential international conferences. He has contributed to UK National Drug Strategies and advised on legislation and health policy and practice. Jim collaborates with some of the leading international experts in the field and co-edited the Routledge book, Human Enhancement Drugs - he is also currently working on volume II.

In 2020, Jim established the Anabolic Steroid UK Network:

Tim Piatkowski

An image of co-section editor for human enhancement drugs: Tim PiatkowskiDr Tim Piatkowski is researcher and lecturer in applied psychology at Griffith University within the School of Applied Psychology and Griffith Centre for Mental Health. He is a Director on the Board of the Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action, a role in which he contributes to a mission of advocating for the health and rights of people who use drugs. Accordingly, his research philosophy centres around a strong belief in harm reduction as a guiding principle, emphasising its role in promoting safety and informed decision-making around drug use. 

He is internationally recognised for his research on human enhancement drug consumption, specifically focusing on the utilisation of anabolic-androgenic steroids and image and performance enhancing drugs among diverse demographics. He collaborates with colleagues in this field all over the world and has contributed significantly to the field through extensive publication and presentations at national and international conferences. Tim also plays a role in shaping strategy in Queensland, Australia, providing guidance on legislation, drug policy, and practice.

Annual Journal Metrics

  • 2022 Citation Impact
    4.4 - 2-year Impact Factor
    4.8 - 5-year Impact Factor
    1.506 - SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper)
    1.414 - SJR (SCImago Journal Rank)

    2023 Speed
    7 days submission to first editorial decision for all manuscripts (Median)
    131 days submission to accept (Median)

    2023 Usage 
    4,628 Altmetric mentions