Tag Archives: sports

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.

Playing High Contact Sports Could Put Teens at Risk for Using Drugs and Alcohol

adolescentsportsinjuriesTeens who play high contact sports like football, wrestling, hockey or lacrosse are more likely to drink alcohol or smoke than those teen athletes who play non contact sports. A new University of Michigan study’s findings show that participating in high contact sports was associated with substance use within the last 30 days.

The study also found that teens who play competitive, high contact sports were more likely to have an early onset of getting drunk between 4th and 8th grades when compared to teens not participating in sports.

Results showed that teens playing contact sports tended to be willing to take a gamble with their bodies, even if the gamble led to injury and permanent damage. This trait could be a reason why teens who play high contact sports are more likely to make decisions to drink or use drugs. The opposite can be said for those teens participating in non contact sports like tennis, swimming and track. Those students would be least likely to initiate drug or alcohol use because they are focused on maintaining their bodies for competition.

“Competitive sports participation can either inhibit or amplify substance use,” said Phillp Veliz, assistant research professor at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. He pointed out that it just depends on the type of sports the adolescents play.

Data from Monitoring the Future, a national survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, was used by the researchers for the University of Michigan study. Students were asked questions on substance abuse, how they feel they are doing academically and whether or not they participate in sports. Their sample included more than 21,000 teens who were asked about drug and alcohol use within a 30-day window.

Veliz said that the findings cast doubt on previous perceptions that any type of participation in organized sports deters teens from risky behaviors like substance abuse.