Pro Football and Addiction
Imagine how tough it is to become a professional football player in the National Football League. The blood, the sweat, and yes, the tears over many years of constant pain from literally being beaten up every week. Even if you are one of the chosen few who makes the final cut, there are new up and coming talents each year trying to take your job and paycheck away.
Every season numerous players are cut, traded, injured and out of the game and possibly the league, for good! Some of these strong men turn to drugs and alcohol to kill the pain, both physically and emotionally to deal with things. While in the NFL, they lived in a fantasy world that only famous athletes, movie stars, and other stars know. When their careers are over, the fall from grace, and the change it brings can be devastating.
Drugs have been part of pro football’s brutal culture for many years. Some players even hoard pills, some trade game tickets with pharmaceutical workers to get large amounts of the drugs they seek. Even former Super Bowl Champion quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Brett Farve admitted he was addicted to pain killers at one point.
Players play in pain, it’s the nature of the game and our culture. There are big contracts, big careers, and there is big money at stake for these players. If they’re hurt and they don’t play, there is always someone waiting to take their job. The use of illicit drugs is against the law and NFL policy unless prescribed by a licensed doctor. These are big men, no doctor in their right mind is going to prescribe enough pain medicine to kill the pain so that these warriors can continue to do battle week after week.
It’s estimated that at least 10% of the league’s more than 1500 players have serious drug problems involving pain killers. Painkillers can be addictive and have harmful side effects. The league is cracking down on the misuse of illicit drugs by its players. The league tests for 10 to 12 substances including pain killers on a random basis year-round.
The NFL has two separate policies for substances that can lead to suspension. One policy concerns the use of banned drugs that are specifically indicated to improve athletic performance (PEDs). The other policy concerns “substances of abuse” and include drugs that may not enhance performance, but are indulged in for recreational purposes. In 2007 Jared Allen of the Kansas City Chiefs was suspended due to 2 DUI arrests.
The ultimate goal is for players to stay on the field and continue to play no matter what. “When you have a bunch of 300-pound guys smashing into one another, what do people expect?” one offensive lineman said. “People just see Sundays, but we hit each other every day.” Often painkiller use during the season leads to withdrawal symptoms in the off season. It’s a vicious cycle!
Today there is help for players that develop problems, there are professional recovery coaches, case managers, interventionists, mobile rehab, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and much more. The players have heathy alternatives to narcotic painkillers through holistic treatments today. It’s all a matter of healthy choices. We can help those players at The Addictions Coach. www.theaddictionscoach.com 1.800.706.0318
Dr. Cali Estes