Considering the importance placed on sports by our nation’s culture, it should come as no surprise that, more and more, athletes are at risk of painkiller addiction. In fact, it has been purported that “NFL players misuse opioid pain medications at a rate more than four times that of the general population,” and this is only one of a broad spectrum of sports organizations that includes professional, amateur, and even child athletes. The need for pain management is at the forefront of a worsening situation wherein addiction in athletes may often appear the better alternative to the possibility of an athletic career cut short.
We’re here to tell you that it isn’t.
Painkiller Addiction in Athletes
To understand the inherent dangers of painkiller addiction in athletes, let’s review what we already know about the prescription painkillers being abused:
- Prescription opioids – which are some of the more popular and dangerous painkillers being abused – are derived from the opium poppy, which is the same plant from which heroin is synthesized.
- Long-term effects of painkiller abuse include addiction; depression; infection of the heart lining and valves; and permanent damage to the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
- Quitting isn’t easy and is often met with withdrawal symptoms ranging from muscle and bone pain to insomnia, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Painkiller overdose can lead to death.
- With OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, morphine, and codeine (a cough suppressant) comprising prescription opioids, they are more prevalent than you may realize.
Considering these harsh realities, it is important to remember that the need to get back out on the field or the court pales in comparison to the effects of painkillers in those who freely abuse them. This means that you should listen to your body. You should depend on its natural healing effects and the professional guidance of a qualified physician when treating an injury in favor of some magic little pill. Though we understand that sports are about exploiting competitive advantages, we hope that you come to understand that the advantages of prescription opioid abuse are fleeting.
In all likelihood, painkiller addiction will end up costing you much more than a few weeks on the sidelines.