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.