Preventing Addiction as a Student Athlete – Hendricks County Substance Abuse Task Force

Preventing Addiction as a Student Athlete – Hendricks County Substance Abuse Task Force


A lot of people don’t realize the risk of
sports and opiates. I would say our athletes who come in are introduced to opiates because
of a high school injury. When he was really young, we knew automatically that he was gonna
gravitate toward athletics. He was not going to let anything interfere with his senior
year eligibilities. But in the process of all of this, he injured his shoulder. So the
doctor prescribed him some pain medicine. Elliot will tell you that it helped with that,
but he also did like the feeling that he got from being on those pain-killers. So I played
football and rugby, obviously rough sports. So I’ve had an array of injuries over the
years. Along with that came lots of prescriptions. You know there is extreme euphoria, you slepp
great, you feel great, you’re warm, it’s a really comfortable feeling. Over time, that
fades away and you start using just to feel normal, and not be sick. You can’t sleep,
you can’t eat, you sweat, you’re crawling in your skin, everything else priority-wise
takes a back seat. Whether it’s a job, relationships. It’s important that parents and athletes understand
that if you do take opioids, a very short course is best. And it’s gonna keep you from
getting into problems. There’s been some research that shows that people who are on opioid medications
for 10 days or more can have problems with addiction. 1 in 5 of them will have problems
with long term opioid use in that situation. Right before one of my baseball games, I swung
a bat and my shoulder actually popped out of socket. Eventually the doctor told me,
“If you don’t get surgery, you’re going to have to, it will completely just keep coming
out of socket.” When it happened to me, I just felt I was so stressed, I was frustrated
because I couldn’t finish out the season, it was very very frustrating because I just
wanted to play. I kind of wanted to rush it, but you just have to take your time and relax,
and know that’s gonna be a long process to get back into it. People want to be back out
on the field to play or back to their usual life yesterday. Injuries are never convenient.
And it’s always a process of coaching, educating, helping people understand the normal biology
of healing and the time it takes to heal these injuries. And helping them understand that
“hey, we’ve got a plan, we can get through this.” But you have to have some patience,
you have to be diligent and compliant, and with the evidence based practices, hopefully
returning to things as early as possible. At the end of the day we want our student
athletes to be very open and honest with us. And so it comes down to trust and being able
to have open and honest dialogue with your providers, and in this case, athletic trainers.
Sometimes loading an injury and/or trying to push through pain can slow you down and
set you back more than people think, and the old adage of “no pain, no gain” can be detrimental
in those situations. Little did I know that decisions I was gonna make when I was 16,
18, 20 years old would still be affecting my life when I was 30. You don’t learn that
until you’re 30, you know, those choices have real consequences that are long lasting. Often
what initially started as maybe a physical injury, it can turn into programming the brain
to say “this is how I cope with emotional pain” as well. I think the biggest way that
addiction can be insidious is the fact that it can often be very secretive, which gives
it permission to continue to get worse. And so when we bring the addiction into the light
of people who care about this young person, we find that that opens a door to healing.

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