Performance enhancing drugs widely used in the job

Performance enhancing drugs widely used in the job

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Hundreds of thousands of workers dope in the workplace

According to a new study, hundreds of thousands of people in Germany are taking medication to be more productive or to improve their mood. This doping can be dangerous: the pills can damage your health.

For many employees in Germany, the stress to which they are exposed at work has increased significantly in recent years. The current health report of the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit shows that hundreds of thousands of working people take medication in order to be more efficient in the workplace.

Doping in the workplace

As the health insurance company wrote in a message, around two percent of employees in Germany take performance-enhancing or mood-enhancing medication. This emerges from the current DAK analysis "Update: Doping in the workplace".

Extrapolated to the working population that is around 700,000 employees. According to the information, many workers also use the medication to have energy for private things after work.

Healthy framework conditions in the job are necessary

For the representative DAK study, it was examined whether and how employees resort to prescription medication without medical need.

Experts call this pharmacological neuro-enhancement and include substances such as methylphenidate or fluoxetine. Over 5,500 working people aged between 18 and 65 were interviewed for the study.

According to the study, around 700,000 working people (1.8 percent) are currently doping regularly in order to be fitter for the job. Doping is now almost as common in the job as in 2014 (1.9 percent).

According to the information, 71.5 percent of employees between the ages of 20 and 50 are aware of the supposed possibilities of brain doping to improve performance. In 2008, doping was known less than every second professional in this age group (44.9 percent).

"Drug abuse is not a mass phenomenon," said Andreas Storm, chairman of the board of DAK-Gesundheit. “Nevertheless, our analysis shows how important healthy framework conditions are in the job. Work demands must not tempt employees to want better results with medication. ”

Drug use more common among the elderly

According to the health insurance company, pharmacological neuro-enhancement is the most widespread among 60- to 65-year-old employees. 4.4 percent of them have doped at least once in the past few months. That is a third more than the average (3.3 percent).

The overall "doping rate" rises with age: 2.5 percent of 18 to 29 year-old employees misuse medication for the job at least once a year, and 3.2 percent of 30 to 49 year-olds.

Use the pill to have energy and a good mood after work
According to the DAK study, most workers dope to better achieve professional goals. This was stated by every second “doper”. Roughly one in three cites the reason that work with medicines is easier.

More than one in four doping employees (27.1 percent) use the pill to have energy and a good mood for their private life after work.

When looking at the sexes, there are some differences in the reasons and reasons for brain doping: One in four men who dope believes that without the medication they are often emotionally unable to do the job.

For women who dope, it is only every fifth. One in five men would not be able to keep up at work without doping. For women, this affects every eighth.

Health effects from doping

Professor Dr. Klaus Lieb, Director of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Mainz University Medical Center and Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research, is dampening expectations of doping with regard to the current DAK study:

"The drugs often only have short-term and minimal effects on cognitive performance."

Rather, the expert warns of health problems caused by doping: “Dizziness, headaches, nervousness and sleep disorders are not uncommon. In addition, possible long-term consequences are still completely unclear, ”explains Lieb.

“In any case, it should be healthier to take care of your mental health and performance by strengthening your own resilience. The promotion of social contacts, mindfulness, rethinking and the active approach to challenging situations are particularly effective. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • DAK Health: DAK study: Doping in the job has been stagnating since 2014, (accessed: February 23, 2020), DAK Health

Video: Doping Debate in Sports: Should Athletes Use Drugs? (July 2022).


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