ESPN Covers NFL Players’ Substance Abuse

painkillersespnotlA couple of years ago, ESPN’s special report Outside The Lines did a story on prescription drug abuse by former NFL players. The focus was mainly on pain medication and was the result of a study they commissioned along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The study was conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine and led by Linda Cottler, a professor of epidemiology in the school’s Department of Psychiatry.

From March to August 2010, Cottler’s research team interviewed 644 former NFL players by telephone. The players who participated in the research retired from the NFL between 1979 and 2006, played an average of more than seven seasons, and averaged 48 years old at the time.

Among several revelations, the study found that more than half of the retired players said they used prescription pain medication during their playing days. Of those, over 70 percent said they misused the drugs then, and 15 percent of those admitted to still misusing the medication within the past 30 days.

The subject of drug use and sports has continued to heat up in recent years. Professional athletes are typically faced with much more extreme circumstances that make them more vulnerable to developing substance abuse issues. On one hand they have a much higher level of income and access to parties, while on the other they have an increased rate of injuries as well.

ESPN also recently featured a letter from New York Jets back-up quaterback Eric Ainge where he detailed his past substance abuse.

Ainge concluded his letter with, “The reason I decided to speak so openly about this is because I want to bring awareness to mental health and the disease of addiction. Kids and athletes need to know it’s OK to ask for help and to talk to somebody about what’s going on in their lives. I was afraid to talk before, but through my NA program and God, I’m not afraid to ask for help or talk openly anymore.”

If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to get started on the path to a better life.