The rate of opiate abusers in the NFL has been exponentially increasing over the past few years. The gravity of this matter has been highlighted as more and more NFL players have been thrust into the spotlight as a result of misconduct in the public scene. This has taken a toll on both their personal and professional lives which is why a number of studies have been conducted to establish why these players put everything on the line when they use drugs.
Although a large number of the players in the league do not abuse illicit drugs, a greater majority have been shown to misuse prescription painkillers. A study conducted by researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis into painkiller medication abuse by former NFL players revealed a number of shocking revelations. One of the discoveries made by the study showed that the retired league players abused opiates at a rate that was over four times that of ordinary individuals. So what are the factors that have made opiate abuse in the league soar to such dangerous levels?
Since the NFL comprises a highly physical sport, the rate of injuries is expected to be high. Whereas a fair number of the league players have received valid prescriptions to make use of painkiller meds in order to relieve them of the pain from their injuries, most do not follow through with what their doctors prescribe. Most players from the study revealed that they usually took a larger dose than that prescribed by their doctors and as the frequency of their use increased, so did their dependency on it. Although the league has gone to great lengths to ensure that players get tested for a wide variety of drug substances, the results have not been as encouraging as expected. It is also important to be aware of the fact that although painkillers are the most widely abused opiates in the NFL, other drugs such as anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs have also been a major problem for some of the league players. The NFL has had to dish out appropriate punishment to the likes of Fred Davis who was given a four game suspension for being in violation of the league’s drug abuse policy while other significant numbers have had to be fined substantial sums.
The reality of the matter however, is that the NFL has done a poor job of dealing with the opiate abuse problem. If anything the NFL has been to blame for the rise in the number of players abusing opiates. This is because cuts from high profile teams as a result of under performance by players have become increasingly common hence the need to ensure performance is optimal or over the top by these players which has further fueled the need to make use of these drugs. Although some would like to argue that the NFL being labeled as a hub for opiate abusers is wrong, research studies and news reports continue to prove otherwise. It is high time that this institution takes a firmer stand with regards to its substance abuse policies.