Many athletes end up addicted to drugs for many reasons. They may be in the wrong environment with the wrong company. If a athletes have psychological issues they may be seeking to numb their emotional pain. Some athletes have addictive personalities that manifest themselves through excessive gambling, alcohol, or drug abuse.
The world of sports is a surprising breeding ground for drug abuse. This article has been written to help people resist the temptation to follow this path, or to help them overcome the issue if it has already taken hold.
People can gain professional assistance through in-patient or outpatient help (eg for two to four days a week). They can also opt for partial hospitalization (eg for five days a week). Many athletes turn to rehab centers for addiction using 24-hour phone lines to gain confidential help. They want to gain educational resources and self-help materials. People also want to discover the root causes of their issues and to have help with such things as their health, housing, and safety.
A person may have had pre-existing psychological problems when they entered the world of sport. They may have self-esteem issues – feeling inadequate and being afraid of failing. Other people desperately seek ways to become physically stronger and faster. They may take anabolic steroids, growth hormones, or beta-blockers.
Some athletes take diuretics to help them pass drugs tests, and also to help with their weight. Eating disorders sometimes come about because they are battling to maintain their target weight. It may be that you have become addicted to taking pain medication due to a sports injury. Perhaps it’s the only way you can maintain your fitness regime and feel well.
It can be hard to function in an environment that constantly pushes you to improve and to win. It’s not just the pressure to succeed; there’s also the ‘work hard play hard’ mentality. This can open the door to binge drinking and marijuana use during leisure times.
It’s often the case that people have to retire from sports at an early age, as they become less physically agile. This can adversely affect people mentally.
If you can admit that you have an issue, you are halfway there. The problem can be that there are many implications when you put up your hand and tell people. Fellow team members may be greatly disappointed in you. You may feel like a failure now that everyone knows.
Sports associations frequently get involved when people confess to having an issue with drugs. The issue of testing and disciplinary measures all come into play. Once again it can make it really hard not to simply hide the issue.
Ironically, some coaches may encourage someone to keep taking prescription medication, even if they have become addicted. This would be if the athlete was functioning well using it. The philosophy would be ‘the end justifies the means’. Sadly addiction usually ends up affecting every area of a person’s life, so the issue can’t be swept under the carpet forever.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be effective in helping people who are abusing drugs. It is based on the fact that our thoughts affect our emotions, and this influences our actions.
CBT helps people identify the negative and harmful thoughts they are experiencing. They may include, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m a failure’, ‘Everyone else is better than me’, ‘I mustn’t admit my struggles and weaknesses’. Once the thoughts have been identified, positive sentences are chosen to replace them. When a person gains the habit of identifying wrong thoughts and swapping them with new ones, they feel and act in more positive ways.
People who are abusing pain medication may be given alternative non-drug treatments. They may include pilates, massage and if necessary, rest from sporting activities.
Psychological help may be beneficial during this season. Some professionals harness the twelve-step program that is used by Alcoholics Anonymous. There may also be several recommendations including individual, group, and family therapy.
As we can see, the sporting world is a minefield for vulnerable people. It can push success at the expense of being human. People can be extreme in their work and leisure behavior. It can feel weak to admit you have personal challenges. Drugs offer the false solution of feeling better, losing pain, and improving in sport.
Once a person understands their issues and faces the consequences, they open the door to help. With the kindness of friends, family, and professionals, a person can be steered into freedom and have a bright future once again.