‘The general concept is a safer use approach’: how image and performance enhancing drug coaches negotiate safety through community care

Timothy Piatkowski*, Luke Cox, Nicholas Gibbs, Luke Turnock, Matthew Dunn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug coaches are a novel extension of traditional personal trainers who play a significant role providing support and shaping drug-related behaviours for people who use image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs). They constitute a critical domain for everyday risk management, where substance use, and its associated harms are influenced by social exchange. This study investigated how IPED coaches negotiate safety within the community through the provision of their services and the partnerships they form with clients.

Ten IPED coaches, selected through purposive sampling, engaged in semi-structured interviews (32–57 minutes in length) exploring the way in which they operate in their field of practice. Iterative inductive analysis was applied to the transcripts, enhanced by discussions among researchers and an independent coder.

The findings are organised under three categories, revealing the nuanced strategies and identities of IPED coaches, emphasising harm reduction and optimising ‘gains’ in IPED use. These coaches play a significant role in harm reduction, wielding their ‘chemical capital’ and lived experience to integrate nuanced harm reduction strategies into their partnerships with clients.

Embodying a model of peer-driven knowledge exchange and emphasising open and inclusive discourse IPED coaches offer a vehicle toward integrated harm reduction strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Early online date11 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2024

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