Each year, crowds of spectators fill arenas and stadiums to see their favorite athletes in action. More people watch sports competitions on their TVs and gadgets. Fans idolize their favorite footballers, tennis players, basketball players, and other sports stars. For novice athletes, they are role models. Corporate sponsors pay them to endorse their products.
However, like millions of people who aren’t involved in sports, athletes face drug abuse and addiction. News of players failing a drug test, partying lavishly, or entering rehab, has become common.
Why Athletes Start Taking Drugs
Athletes live under constant internal and external pressure. The world of professional sports is open only for those whose physical and mental strength is beyond that of an average person. So, athletes want to become faster, higher, and stronger by all means. They are also driven by the expectations of their families and coaches who dedicatedly support their careers. Add daily responsibilities like school, work, or childcare.
Pressure and stress can result in trying some substance in an attempt to boost their performance or cope with stressful situations. Substance use can easily come out of control. Many users develop an addiction and need free drug rehab centers: no-cost facilities.
Performance-Enhancing Drug Use Among Athletes
Sports are all about competition. Professional, amateur, and recreational athletes may use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to reach a competitive advantage. PEDs are divided into the following categories:
- Anabolic agents
- Beta-2 agonists
- Hormone and metabolic modulators
- Peptide hormones, growth factors, and related substances
The use of PEDs is known as called doping in casual settings and the media. Doping is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The organization bans any substance that can enhance performance (cheating), make harm to health, and violate the spirit of sport.
However, PEDs are still used by athletes at all levels and ages. Anabolic steroids are the most commonly used type of PEDs. These drugs are supposed to increase muscle mass, strength, and endurance. But they have a long list of side-effects which may be permanent and can vary by individual.
Physiological effects may include:
- Hair loss/balding
- High levels of cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Fertility problems.
Psychological effects include:
- Mood swings
Since steroids are basically hormones, they cause gender-specific effects. Males may experience:
- Breast tissue development
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Prostate cancer.
Females may experience:
- Deepening voice
- Cessation of breast development
- Menstrual irregularities/infertility;
- Hair growth on face and body.
Many people mistakenly assume that these substances are not addictive because they don’t produce euphoric feelings (“the high”), as street drugs do. But why do athletes keep abusing some type of PEDs in spite of the dangerous side-effects?
The reason is the same that makes drug users unable to stop injecting heroin when they are suffering from physical and psychological damage – addiction. Often, enrolling in free drug rehab is the only way to battle substance abuse.
Recreational Drug Use Among Athletes
People don’t always turn to prohibited substances to gain an advantage in all forms of athleticism. Coping with injuries is one of the most common reasons. Traumas are part of professional sports. There’s even such a term as “sports injuries” which refers to damages that occur during sport, athletic activities, or exercising. The most common ones include:
- Sprains and strains
- Swollen muscles
- Knee injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Achilles tendon injuries
Athletes with physical injuries may take drugs, such as opioids and cannabis, to relieve pain. For some, addiction starts when they are prescribed painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, to relieve pain while recovering from an injury or surgery to repair an injury.
The use of prescription medications for more than a few weeks can lead to tolerance. A person starts to need more and more of the substance to get the same pain-relieving effect. Regular use of the drug causes changes in the brain and eventually, it can’t function normally without the drug. When the person finds themselves in a state of full-fledged addiction, quitting without free addiction help may be practically impossible and even dangerous.
The National Study on Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes shed some light on the rate of substance use among student-athletes in 2017:
- 77 percent drank alcohol;
- 24 percent smoked marijuana;
- 11 percent used narcotic pain medication with a prescription;
- 3 percent used narcotic pain medication without a prescription.
Alcohol, cannabinoids (marijuana), amphetamines, and narcotics can be addictive to some people. And seeking an appropriate treatment for an addicted person is the best way to break the unhealthy cycle that is ruining life and career.
How to Help an Addicted Athlete Get Treatment?
If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, you know how it feels to be eager to help but not knowing how. Forcing someone in a free drug rehabilitation center won’t help. A person should admit the problem and become willing to get help.
At first, educate yourself. Otherwise, how will you confront an addict if you don’t know much about addiction and treatment options?
Offer support. Tell them about quality treatment resources. You might hear several reasons to avoid treatment, like being absent in practice or missing big games. So, prepare some encouraging arguments. Also, learn more about the tragic consequences of substance abuse and addiction for people’s health, careers, and life.
Athletes undergo the same free drug treatment program as people of other occupations. It starts with detoxification that involves medically assisted withdrawal management. After that, they participate in therapy. They discover the roots of their addiction, learn to cope with their problems without substance use, and get some skills and techniques to deal with possible cravings. Depending on the addiction history and severity of the disease, athletes can be recommended an inpatient (residential), outpatient or partial hospitalization program.
Sports and drugs don’t mix. If you or someone you know is trapped by substance abuse, there is no time to waste. Find an effective treatment a.s.a.p.