Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Monday, February 21, 2011

Substance Abuse Prevention – Prescription Drugs & Student-Athletes

Did you know that prescription drug use is the fastest growing drug problem in America today?

Are we overly condoning and/or overly condemning young people, and leaving them at a higher risk?

Today’s world is filled with many issues that have been around for centuries, but they are intensified today with our multitude of technologies.  Research has shown us that young people in a setting with high stress can lead to drug use and or abuse.  So how can someone become addicted to a substance?  To understand this, we must find what relief the person (addict) finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behavior. The following is a list of common problems experienced in today’s society by our youth (athletics focus).
·         Divorce
·         Physical/mental abuse
·         Death of loved one
·         Standardized Test (SAT/ACT, etc…)
·         Loss of starting position
·         Injury
·         Depression
·         Inability to sleep
·         Inability to focus
After reading the above list, does it surprise you that the most commonly abused (misused) prescription drugs are as follows:
  • Opioids:  usually prescribed to treat pain. Heroin, Codeine, Opium, Morphine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Buprenorphine
  • CNS depressants: used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. (sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers) Abmien, Lunesta, Xanax, Valium, Librium, Rohypnol, Gamma-hydroxybutyrate(GHB), Ativan, Klonopin
  • Stimulants:  prescribed to treat ADHD & narcolepsy. Amphetamines (Adderall), Lisdexamfetamine -(dextroamphetamine with lysine) (Vyvanse) Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin), Methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
It seems likely that young people are less concerned about the dangers of using these drugs outside of medical regimen, likely because they are widely used for “legitimate” purposes.  Also, prescription psychotherapeutic drugs are now being advertised directly to the consumer, which implies both that they are used widely and are safe to use.
  • Every $1.00 spent advertising prescription drugs is estimated to increase their retail sales by $4.20
  • Pharmaceutical companies spend nearly twice as much on promotions in the U.S. as they do on research and development (R&D). 
The problem with these prescribed drugs that many young people fail to realize, is that they are very dangerous even though they are prescribed by a doctor.  They can still kill you! 
·         Approximately 100,000 deaths/year in U.S. – these are drugs being used properly

Even if they do not kill you; there is always a chance they can harm you in other ways
·         Approximately 1,500,000 hospitalizations/year in U.S.

So I ask again, Are we overly condoning and/or overly condemning young people, and leaving them at a higher risk? 

I believe we are.

  1. Jason, et al. (Lazarou et al), Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Vol. 279. April 15, 1998, pp. 1200-05.
  2. Bates, David W., Drugs and Adverse Drug Reactions: How Worried Should We Be? JAMA, Vol. 279. April 15, 1998, pp. 1216-17.
  3. The JOURNAL of the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (JAMA) Vol 284, No 4, July 26th 2000 article written by Dr Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health
  4. Gagnon, M. A. and Lexchin, J. (2008, Jan) The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States. PloS Medicine. http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050001

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