Performance Enhancing Drugs

Performance-enhancing drugs are those believed to improve a person’s strength and endurance.

There is such a covert acceptance of the use of performance enhancing drugs or “doping”, that it becomes difficult for athletes to compete without them.

Numerous studies suggest that there can be dangerous side effects to these drugs, leading them to a lifelong addiction and exposing them to further injury (Washington Post, April 13, 2013). Some of these drugs were developed specifically to “beat” the drug tests. Not only are they illegal, but they have not tested or approved by the FDA, so side effects or long term usage are unknown. Even when taking drugs that have been approved for medical purposes (e.g. anabolic steroids such as testosterone) athletes notoriously adhere to the belief that “more is better” and thus often use dosages that would never be prescribed medically.

College Athletes

Intercollegiate athletes are at a particularly high risk for excessive alcohol consumption as well as the negative consequences that are often related to excessive drinking.

Joshua Watson, in an article entitled, Assessing the Potential for Alcohol –Related Issues Among College Student-Athletes (2002, Athletic Insight Vol 4, Issue 3) reports that the challenges faced by college athletes according to research are:

  • balancing athletics and academics
  • adapting to social challenges associated with athlete status
  • managing athletic successes and failures
  • minimizing physical injury
  • terminating their athletic career, and
  • weight management issues, including eating disorders

Retirement from the game

Athletes are also vulnerable to drug abuse after an injury or aging forces them to retire from the game.

Of retired professional athletes, 52% admit that they used prescription pain medication during their playing days. Of those, 71% said they misused the drugs, and 15 percent of those acknowledged misusing medication within the past 30 days.

A 2010 study by the Washington University School of Medicine found that retired NFL players misuse opioids at a rate more than four times that of their peers. Of those who misused opioids during their careers, 15% continued to misuse after their careers ended. (Washington Post, April 13).

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