Aug 09

Prescription Drug Abuse Rises Among High School Football Players

According to new research published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, prescription drug abuse is rising among high school football players in the United States.

The author of the study, Bryan Denham, a professor of sports communication at Clemson University, cross-tabulated quantitative data collected from the 2009 Monitoring the Future survey, taken by 2,273 high school seniors and sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The study broke up the data based on gender and included two categories: race and competitive sports participation.

Male participants who played baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming and diving and track and field were interviewed. Female participants who played softball, basketball, soccer, swimming and diving, track and field and volleyball were interviewed.

The results found that student athletes use illicit substances more frequently than non-competitors, possibly due to competition among their peers. Out of all the sports surveyed, football players use the most illegal substances and males consume more than females. In addition, Denham found that white students use more drugs than African American and Hispanic students.

Most alarmingly, 12 percent of males surveyed and 8 percent of females reported using painkillers in the past year, an increase from previous surveys.

“I’ve  studied the use of performance enhancing substances in sports for about 15 years and this study extended that line of research to mind-altering substances,” Denham said. “Alcohol has always been available, as has marijuana, but younger people also may look to stronger drugs for euphoric effects.

“If prescription pain relievers are over-prescribed in certain regions, their use may trickle down to adolescents,” he went on. “Use of narcotic pain relievers may become a habit with some adolescent athletes.”

The study also found that at least half of students attending American high schools uses alcohol. In addition, while the term “hard drug” often applies to substances such as cocaine or LSD, it now also pertains to prescription pain relievers or analgesics, such as methadone, opium, morphine and codeine.