young athletes and drug addiction
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Post on 01-Oct-2015
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Youth sports can be a rewarding activity for many young people. It teaches them teamwork, dedication, and other skills that are necessary to become a functioning adult. In a growing number of tragic cases, however, being involved in sports also leads young athletes down the path of drug addiction.
Every year, one quarter of the 7.5 million high school athletes in the U.S. suffers a sports injury.1 To help these young athletes cope with the pain of broken bones, strained muscles, and other painful medical conditions, doctors will often prescribe painkillers. While prescription painkillers have useful medicinal applications, they are often addictive and can lead to drug abuse.
Many of the effective and commonly prescribed painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet, are known as much for their addictive qualities as they are for their medicinal value. When young athletes suffer multiple injuries or have to manage chronic pain, they are often given this kind of pain medication, which can lead to addiction after long-term use.
Many common painkillers are opioids synthetic medications that have the same or similar effects on the body as drugs derived from the opium plant. When a young athlete becomes addicted to painkillers, they will often transition to heroin or other hard drugs once obtaining prescription medicine becomes too difficult or expensive.
When properly managed, using painkillers to treat sports injuries in the short term is safe and non-habit forming. It is when painkillers are prescribed over a long period of time or when painkillers are easily available to teens who miss the feeling of euphoria and/or lack of pain that the medication gave them, that addiction becomes a serious risk.
In recent decades, using prescription drugs recreationally has become much more common among adults and kids up to 38 million people worldwide used opioids as a recreational drug in 2011 alone.2 When prescription medication is overprescribed or easy to get ahold of, the danger of young athletes continuing to abuse the medication rises dramatically.
According to recent studies, the number of high school athletes who admit to abusing prescription painkillers has risen in recent years. 12% of male athletes and 8% of female athletes questioned in a National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) survey admitted to abusing prescription medication. The study also found that teens who play sports are more likely to take prescription medication recreationally than their peers who are not involved in sports.3
Parents and teachers can help prevent drug addiction among teen athletes in several ways:
Carefully monitor how many painkillers an injured athlete is taking, and for how long.
Keep prescription medication in a safe place where kids cannot access them, and then discard them when they are expired or no longer needed.
Educate young athletes on the dangers of prescription drugs.
Encourage young athletes who cannot stop taking medication to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Yellowstone Recovery helps people reclaim their lives from alcohol and drug abuse. Located in Orange County, Yellowstone Recovery offers compassionate and knowledgeable care to teens, adults, and seniors. Learn more at www.yellowstonerecovery.com.