Addiction In Sports

athletes in pool

Spectator fans line arenas and stadiums every year to watch their favorite athletes in practice. They’re idolized by fans, young athletes want to be them, and company advertisers want to partner with them.

Like millions of Americans, however, athletes battle with substance abuse to drugs and alcohol. A day scarcely passes where we don’t hear of an athlete attending rehab, failing a drug test, lavishly drinking or overdosing on a substance.

Professional sports encourage the misuse of drugs. Most athletes are highly paid, and through their social circles, they can easily access drugs. This has contributed to an outbreak of substance abuse that has destroyed countless athletes’ lives.

Why Do Athletes Abuse Substances?

For various reasons, people use medications. Others do this to improve performance or to remedy an accident.

Its threats may be raised by intense pressure to exercise. Athletes are no less resistant to alcohol abuse and addiction than others. Athletes may be advised to use medications to increase their athletic performance, cope with strains from high pressures, handle sports-related injuries, recover more quickly from injury (or simply cover), or even mental health problems. Some may also use emotional relief drugs after they have to retire.

Athletes can use medicines to enhance athletic performance. Athletes could use drugs like steroids to gain a competitive edge. However, this is considered cheating, but still finds its way into the world of sports.

Managing mental illnesses

The treatment for physical injury is often given to athletes. However, they have less chance of being treated for mental health. Some athletes try and treat their symptoms by using alcohol and drugs.

Deal with pressure

Athletes often experience considerable pressure on and off the field. You can feel pressure to win, boost your results, or recover fully from an injury. Many competitors may take drugs to cope with this distress.

Treat physical injuries

People recovering from physical injuries can use drugs for the relief of discomfort including opioids and weed. Addiction occurs for certain people after painkillers for an accident have been administered. They can start to abuse their medications and become reliant on them, both physically and psychologically.

Retirement issues

Sports players are much more likely than other occupations to enter early retirement. Athletes that are unready to quit and enjoy the excitement of action will make a difficult shift away from the game. Drugs and alcohol often become ways to cope with these struggles for retired athletes.

Peer pressure

The sports community has an approximate 67% bodybuilders who use drugs, 52% of people who play football use opiates, and 93% of college athletes consuming alcohol. Substance abuse is widespread.

Drugs abused by most athletes

Athletes can use several drugs to boost performance, treat pain or injury, and deal with physical tension, such as drugs that strengthen the performance, stimulants, and narcotics.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Anabolic steroids

Athletes can use high doses of anabolic steroids to increase the muscular size, work out more hard and get back faster from workouts. The human body produces naturally anabolic steroids in the form of testosterone that helps muscle building.

Androstenedione (Andro)

Andro is a drug that athletes use improperly to exercise and recover from injuries more efficiently. Research has shown, however, that andro does not improve muscle strength or testosterone levels.

Human growth hormone (HGH)

Athletes can use HGH for muscle mass and efficiency enhancement. The medicine used is only recommended and is obtained and marketed routinely unlawfully.


Athletes can use diuretics for weight loss or drug testing. Diuretics function by adjusting the fluid and electrolyte rates of the body. They are common among sports, such as boxing and wrestling, which promote strict weight control.


This medicine increases red blood cell production (erythrocyte) and hemoglobin that can increase the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Erythropoietin may be used to increase stamina and aerobic strength.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription opioids, including OxyContin and Vicodin, are narcotic painkillers for use in pain management. Consumers can have high doses of euphoria and depression, alongside pain relief, with significant enough dosages.

Although some people may continue taking opioid painkillers with a prescription, many others either use them non-medically or without medication at all. Self-treated people can experience some resistance and dependency in compliance with the prescribed directions. But those who neglect them may grow major dependence on their biology and eventually dependency much more rapidly.


Amphetamines and methamphetamine

To improve alertness and strength athletes may use amphetamines, including illegal drugs methamphetamine. Amphetamines will give users a feeling of control, raise self-confidence and minimize appetite. As a result, some athletes may use amphetamines to lose weight, for example, boxers or wrestlers.


Adderall is a prescription depressant for the treatment of hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit. As with other stimulants, athletes may use Adderall to improve performance, manage fatigue and lose weight. It can also improve alertness, focussing and response time.

Other Drug Substances


Athletes drink alcohol before practicing or training to reduce anxiety and therefore enhance their performance. Consistent consumption of alcohol is more likely to lead to other performance issues. Some sports teams can also encourage binge drinking for new members as an initiation.


For euphoria and relaxation, athletes may use marijuana.


Athletes like other stimulants can use cocaine to improve endurance and efficiency, concentration, reduce tiredness and lose weight. Cocaine induces a fleeting euphoria and increases energy. Patients will “binge” the medication to maintain the boost over and over again.

Effects of Drug Abuse and Other Substances Among Athletes

Drug abuse among athletes may lead to negative effects such as:

Suspensions and bans

Several sporting professional organizations have strict rules for the use of performance improvement and recreational drugs. Suspensions, suspensions or sanctions can be severe for competitors who break such laws. Previous awards, certificates or rewards may in some instances be revoked. These implications have been encountered by practitioners like Lance Armstrong, Steve Howe or Brett Favre.

Job loss and early retirement

Drug abuse may interfere with the ability of an athlete to concentrate and adversely affect the performance of an athlete. Several side effects may arise from some drugs and may be associated with symptoms of withdrawal that impede performance. Many players may be forced to retire early due to adverse substance usage results.


The misuse of medications such as morphine order prescription drugs may also have a high risk of a fatal exposure. Amphetamine use can cause a fatal hemorrhagic stroke or heart attack. Opiate abuse such as cocaine or treatment for a prescription is also highly lethal. Len Bias, a college basketball player, and Derek Boogaard, both of whom died of an accidental drug overdose.

Treatments for athletes with drug abuse issues

The support of several forms of treatment services is essential for athletes who are struggling with addiction issues:

Inpatient treatment programs obtain community, patient and family care and temporary housing. Intensive diagnosis and the treatment focuses on helping people understand their addictions and heal from them.

Outpatient programs offer several hours of treatment weekly, with participants returning for non-treatment hours to their own homes or other houses. The therapeutic intensity depends on the program in question. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) typically offer 2 to 4 days of care weekly, whereas limited programs of hospitalization may provide 5 or more days a week of treatment.

Twelve-step programs are related to Alcoholics Anonymous values. These programs help individuals break denial, recognize the gravity of their addictions, connect to a higher power and develop relations with others.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) Therapists help individuals see the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and teach them prevention and coping skills. Theresapeuters help participants to learn the links between their thoughts and their feelings and their behaviors.

Network therapy can be a valuable technique for the diagnosis of drug dependency. Network counseling promotes parental and community involvement in care which integrates CBT tools and techniques. Athletes may benefit from engaging in network counseling for their colleagues.

Motivational interviewing allows people to focus on improvement in their ambivalence in early recovery. Athletes may treat conflicting feelings concerning their use of drugs (known as the stage of change for “pre-contemplation”). It is aimed at helping people to recognize the consequences of their use, and inspire people to stop and take steps for improvement.

Athletes who have problems related to substance abuse may also have problems with mental illness, like depression, anxiety or other problems related to mental health. Drugs and alcohol can be a way of coping with an existing condition of mental health. Substance abuse counseling programs, which help people with dual diagnosis disorders, are available. Such services, including counseling, psychiatric therapy, and support groups facilitated by trained professionals, provide therapeutic interventions for both depression and mental health. Also there a few sports / exercise specific rehab facilities. One of those is Arizona Addiction Recovery in Scottsdale, AZ. They are an all male facility and have helped a lot of athletes including ex pro athletes and current professional athletes! Its a great drug rehab in Arizona.

Note, you are not alone and athletes throughout the nation are dealing with similar problems at every level of the game. Only when you’re ready to stop consuming drugs, become clean, and start to live a drug-free lifestyle, the path towards rehabilitation will begin. Most athletes look back and wish that they hadn’t placed so much into bodies for competition or glory. You can always interrupt the relapse chain, but right now there it seems unlikely.