Each year, millions of fans go to stadiums and arenas to see their favorite sports teams and athletes play. Professional athletes can seem larger than life. But the truth is that they are also at risk from the opioid epidemic that’s casting a shadow over the country.

It seems that every week you hear news about a professional athlete going to rehab or seeking treatment for an injury. Unfortunately, professional sports can make it easier to be exposed to the opioid epidemic. Athletes have more access to the drugs and they often face high pressure to play through injuries.

The bottom line is professional athletes are not immune to the opioid epidemic. In fact, in some cases, they are at a higher risk. In this post, we’ll shed some light on opioid abuse in sports, along with some important facts to consider.

Why Professional Athletes Turn to Opioids

There are plenty of possible reasons why athletes turn to opioids. But the leading cause is related to injuries. Professional sports take a toll on the body. During the season, many athletes have a strict exercise and rehab schedule to stay in top form.

But what happens when an injury strikes? For example, let’s say a professional baseball player breaks a finger during a game. They might be prescribed painkillers to help them in their recovery. It wasn’t the intention, but some athletes become dependent on opioids after an initial injury.

A Higher Risk for Opioid Abuse

Given injuries and the nature of many sports, there is evidence to support that professional athletes are at a higher risk for opioid abuse and addiction. In fact, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan, people who played one sport in high school or college have a higher risk for opioid abuse.

But it doesn’t stop there. Professional athletes in high contact sports like football, hockey, lacrosse or wrestling are at risk.

The Competitive Aspect

It’s no surprise that many professional athletes are very competitive. But how does this factor into opioid abuse? If a player is in pain before a game, it’s easier to take opioids to push past it. Given the notoriety and competitive nature of sports, it can be tough for athletes to sit out.

Ignoring an injury by using opioids only makes the problem worse. Without rest, many injuries in the body build up scar tissue. That scar tissue can become a constant source of pain. This can trap professional athletes in a cycle of addiction to cope with that pain in order to continue playing.

Limited Insurance Options for Athletes

It might be shocking to know that health insurance options for professional athletes are sometimes limited. One of the best examples of this is the NFL. You get insurance coverage for five years and then you’re on your own after that. Some athletes choose to treat some conditions with opioids since they can’t cover the cost of surgery.

Challenges Faced by Retired Players

The truth is that most professional athletes have short careers compared to other professions. As we mentioned above, some professional athletes only get so many years of insurance coverage. Then, when professional athletes retire, they have to figure out what comes next in their careers to continue to support themselves and their health care. Plus, stepping away from a sport doesn’t mean your lingering injuries go away. In many cases, professional athletes continue to abuse opioids after they retire to try to manage the pain leftover from their injuries.

What Are the Dangers to Professional Athletes?

Opioid abuse for professional athletes poses some significant dangers. The most obvious danger is opioid overdose. Opioid overdose is still one of the leading causes of death for people in the United States. And prescription opioids can lead to more heroin and fentanyl addiction.

If professional athletes are able to avoid overdosing, they still face long-term health issues if they continue to abuse opioids. For example, opioids can do significant damage to an individual’s digestive system. This makes it harder for an athlete’s body to absorb the nutrients it needs to function properly. Opioid abuse can also weaken the immune system, leaving athletes more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

There’s no question that the pressure combined with the physical demands of many sports can make professional athletes more prone to opioid addiction. But no matter what your path has been with opioid abuse, there is a way back.

Find Treatment for Professional Athletes at Fountain Hills Recovery

From the beginning, you were told to push yourself to perform. And if you’re a professional athlete, that mentality of being the best at any cost has helped you achieve success. Unfortunately, that mentality can make it challenging to stop and take the time you need to heal from opioid addiction.

Fountain Hills Recovery is a premier luxury treatment center located in Fountain Hills, Arizona. We understand the pressure that comes with being a professional athlete. That’s why our goal is to treat your addiction while getting you back to a place where you can be competitive without abusing opioids.

It might seem impossible to break free from the grip that opioids have on you. But you have to quit in order to heal.

Make a Choice that Supports an Intention for a Healthy Life

If you’re a professional athlete with an opioid addiction, our specialized treatment program can help. Our luxury treatment center uses a person-centered approach to identify your unique needs.

Contact us today to start on your journey to recovery. There’s no judgment or lectures, only healing and a path to a healthier life.