There is no doubt that Americans are facing an epidemic. Drug and alcohol addiction rates are unimaginable, and demographic makes little difference. Young and old, rich and poor, addiction knows no status. Professional athletes are no exception to the rule.
Barely a day goes by without a juicy news story, highlighting a famous athlete’s failed drug test and subsequent entrance into some rehabilitation center. Professional sports fosters the perfect environment for addiction issues. Athletes are paid millions to perform, and they will do almost anything to keep up the facade of a picture perfect existence.
Long hours on the field and astronomical expectations instill a sense of obligation into the minds of professional athletes. One survey from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that America’s athletes are some of the most “at risk” individuals in the world for serious drug addiction problems.
Take a moment to look a bit deeper into this compounding issue, and investigate addiction issues faced by professional athletes today.
Investigate why athletes turn to drugs and alcohol
Enhanced performance benefits – So many professional athletes have dabbled in performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). For obvious reasons, athletes feel they need that extra boost to keep up with performance demands and expectations.
Injuries due to high demands – High demands can also cause higher injury rates. The pressure to heal and move on from an injury is intense, and athletes use drugs to push through the pain.
Accessibility – Living the life of a famous athlete often means that players are surrounded by any and every drug they could ever desire. Money makes everything accessible.
Performance enhancing drugs are still an issue
The use of performance enhancing drugs in the world of professional sports has long been a troubling issue for players. The most common PEDs on the market are Androstenedione, Human growth hormone, Erythropoietin, Diuretics, Creatine, and stimulants of all shapes and sizes.
The most widely abused performance enhancing drugs are anabolic steroids. Extensive steroid use can cause physical and psychological side effects. Most commonly, athletes experience irritability, insomnia, impaired judgement, and in some cases, heart attack.
The prevalence of brain injuries and drug use
There is a strong correlation between chronic brain injuries and substance abuse, particularly prescription drug abuse. Traumatic brain injuries are common in professional sports, especially those that are considered high contact like boxing, hockey, and football.
Due to repeated collisions to the head, the majority of professional football players suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE causes individuals to suffer from anger and depression, along with memory loss and often dementia. It is no wonder that there continues to be a widespread addiction problem among America’s professional athletes.