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Opioid Use Among Athletes

by General Marketing

As many know by now, a large percentage of people with opioid use disorder began their spiral into addiction after a legally prescribed bottle of opioid painkillers. Before opioid prescribing guidelines attempted to curb the number of opioid scripts handed out by doctors were introduced in 2016, millions of them were being written to patients each year. Potent, addictive opioids were given to patients for everything from chronic pain to recovery from minor dental surgery. This quickly spiraled out of control and continued for over two decades, causing hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths and even more cases of addiction.

People with physical jobs and hobbies are logically the most at risk of injury and chronic pain, making them susceptible to opioid painkiller misuse. Athletes, in particular, whether amateur or professional, have increased odds of being prescribed opioid medications, and previous information has shown that various other factors connect athletes and opioid misuse, which shouldn’t be ignored.

Student-Athletes are at Heightened Risk

It’s easy to pass off youth injuries as “growing pains” or expect young bodies to bounce back faster and better than their adult counterparts. However, data shows some troubling trends. Youth athletes in high-contact sports like wrestling and football had about 50% higher odds of nonmedical use of opioids than kids of their same age who didn’t participate in those sports. Due to the intense demands of these kinds of sports, male athletes specifically were shown to be twice as likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers and four times more likely to misuse them.

Now that guidelines have shifted and doctors are prescribing painkillers less often, it’s possible that young people experiencing pain may be seeking out illicit pills, especially with increasing athletic scholarship pressures that mount in high school. Additionally, the CDC has just recently decided to relax prescribing guidelines after six years of high restriction, threatening to swing data once again with a potential increase in written scripts.

Limited Insurance may Drive Opioid Use

Even professional athletes struggle with insurance coverage when it comes to managing sports injuries. Well-known NFL quarterback Ray Lucas has discussed in depth how his injuries and lack of comprehensive pain management led to his eventual opioid addiction. Along with physically demanding, high-contact sports often causing damage, professional athletes also have to consider their livelihood and ability to create income by using their bodies and athletic skills. These motivations have pushed stars like Brett Favre and Calvin Johnson to seek out illicit methods for their pain woes, leading them to speak out about the need for alternative pain relief methods.

Sports are a healthy hobby and an impressive career that few have the skills to “make it” as a superstar. Those who participate in high-contact or advanced-level athletics are at an increased risk of injury requiring opioid pain management at some point in their lives. It’s not uncommon for these folks to develop an opioid dependency, even without intending to become addicted. Anyone who is looking to break free from painkiller misuse can find the help they need at HCRC with the assistance of professional and specialized medical providers and nursing staff. HCRC patients are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and outpatient treatment programs are private and convenient. To learn more about medication-assisted treatment at HCRC, message or call the nearest location today.

Medically Reviewed By:

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at Health Care Resource Centers is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. HCRC is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing addiction treatment services for over 32 years in the New England area.

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