Athletics May Prevent Teens From Abusing Drugs

athletics help prevent drug abuseA new study recently completed by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that teenagers who are involved with sports are less likely to abuse heroin and prescription drugs. With the opioid epidemic that our nation is currently facing, more people are searching out factors that can be applied as a preventative measure.

In the past, researchers have found that children and teenagers in high contact sports are considered more likely to abuse prescription painkillers after being prescribed medications for injuries. In fact, other studies have shown that teenagers that are prescribed prescription painkillers for injuries are 33% more likely to abuse opioids after the prescription runs out.

However, this new study provides an alternate view on teenage sports. According to lead researcher, Philip Veliz, most sports that teenagers participate in are not high contact, high injury sports. These less violent sports provide a protective barrier between drug use and teenagers, and the percentage of those helped by the athletics is far greater than those that are potentially harmed.

“The unfortunate pattern of prescription painkiller misuse to heroin use was not something that was more likely to occur among athletes either moderately or highly involved in sports,” explained Veliz, lead author of the study and an assistant research professor at the University of Michigan.

Before reaching this conclusion, the research team poured over information gathered in the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey from 1997 to 2014. They found that over 53% of eighth- and tenth-graders reported being highly involved in some sort of sport. Nearly 39% of respondents stated that they were moderately involved in sports and almost 8% reported that they did not participate in sports. The teenagers were then asked questions regarding their prescription drug and heroin use. Those who participated heavily in sports were much less likely to abuse drugs than those that did not participate in sports at all.

While some critics point out that the amount of teenagers participating in violent sports needs to be addressed, the study does show that extracurricular activities can be important in keeping children and teenagers away from drugs.

About Blake Nichols

Blake Nichols is the Director of Operations at Desert Cove Recovery. Blake battled his own addiction to drugs and alcohol and was given the gift of recovery at the age of 23. Since 2008, Blake has dedicated his life and career to the field of addiction. He has experience in all aspects of addiction treatment including direct care, admissions, marketing, and administration.
Blake feels that the greatest reward of working in the recovery field is being part of the transformation that a person goes through from the time they arrive and begin treatment, through the hard work and the Miracle of recovery, and ultimately the change into a confident and capable person ready to carry the message of recovery.
"My career has focused on serving others. I have accepted ownership of my responsibilities as that is the key to working at the highest level of professionalism. I have worked to be positive and offer solution-based suggestions in my work and personal life."