PROBLEMS WITH DRUGS?
Athletes & Drugs
Athletes are at a heightened risk of exposure to drug use. They may be prescribed substances to manage pain or to help them recover from injury, they may feel pressure to take substances to improve their performance, they may succumb to the temptations and pressures of attention from others that frequently comes with the job. This is before we even consider the impact of transition from a playing career into the 'real world' which some sportspeople can find is eased by alcohol, gambling and, yes - a wide variety of illegal and non-prescribed prescription drugs.
Drug use can frequently evolve into drug abuse, it often just needs time and any number of readily available extenuating circumstances in order to develop.
Recreational or 'Social' Drugs
Contrary to popular belief, addictive disorders linked to recreational or 'social' drugs are certainly still an issue in modern professional sport. Many of our clients, having experimented with recreational drugs at a younger age, quickly became addicted and struggled to adapt to the world of professional sport with its constant demand for elite performance and its increasingly rigorous testing procedures. We also find recreational drug addiction is common in retired athletes who may have struggled to adapt to life after their sporting career.
Remember that alcohol is a drug and although many sportsmen and women in our experience would categorically state that they would never touch illegal drugs, we also know that an individual's ability to make sound judgements and decisions can be seriously impaired when drinking. Unfortunately, many of our clients have discovered this to be true after the event and their lives have been affected hugely as a result of 'one night out' with the boys or girls.
Pain Relief & Rehabilitation
A significant proportion of drug addiction in sport is linked to opioids for pain relief. Athletes who begin to use them at some point in their career can develop an addiction which controls their lives long after they have retired. Opioids can also act as a gateway drug for some sportspeople who go on to develop harmful relationships with recreational drugs.
It's part of the make-up of an athlete, the way they are wired, to push their body to the very limits of its ability and this can frequently result in injury, sometimes sustained in the gym, sometimes at the hands or feet of an opponent. Athletic injuries can be extremely painful and involve very long recovery times. Prescription drugs, especially opioids, are commonly used during physical therapy and the rehabilitation process to deal with the pain of the recovery process.
Opioids are a very powerful force with a very high rate of addiction, and if you are prescribed them, you should be very careful to take them exactly as directed. If you find yourself visiting multiple doctors to try to get a new prescription, it's very likely that you have developed a dependence and you should seriously consider getting some help before the situation gets worse.
Of course, we understand that managing chronic pain is one of the most difficult things a human being can do. Some of our clients have told us that whatever pain may come as the result of an addiction is preferable to a life in which they feel they are 'under-medicated'. But non-prescribed drugs, perhaps additional batches of a painkiller that you are already being prescribed by your doctor, are always a poor solution.
There are actually ways to manage your physical pain that won't take control of your life. Taking more painkillers than you are prescribed certainly isn't one of them. You will eventually build up a tolerance and no matter how good the painkillers made you feel, they'll eventually stop working as your body adjusts. To get the same feeling, you'll have to use more and more, until either you can no longer afford it or your body breaks down and you become seriously ill.
If you feel you have lost the ability to make an informed choice about your drug use this link may help, or pick up the phone and ask us for the support you need.