Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alcohol: Is your consumption affecting you and your team?

The 2009 NCAA Study of Substance Use of College Student-Athletes leads me to believe yes.    Here are some of the statistics from the study:
·         Overall (Division I, II, II), 83.1 % of respondents indicated drinking within the last 12 months (this is true for both male and female).  This is an increase from the 2005 study (77.5%).
·         The majority of those reporting alcohol usage report frequency of use as less than two days per week.
·         Only 12.6 % reported never using alcohol.
·         Approximately 47 percent of those reporting alcohol usage report drinking six to 10 plus drinks in one sitting.
·         Fifty-four percent of the respondents indicated drinking during both their competitive and off seasons.
·         The majority of the respondents indicated obtaining alcohol from a friend, family member or teammate.
The survey also asked, “Why”, student-athletes used alcohol and, reasons not related to sports was ranked the highest amongst the other options.  For those that choose to abstain from alcohol consumption, not wanting the side-effects was the main reason.
Student-athletes are expected to be great at what they do, they are asked to maintain a high level of performance, both athletically and academically, all under the constant scrutiny of coaches, teammates, fans, and media.  Many problems start well before college and some escalate to levels that require intervention from coaches, parents, etc…Student-athletes are different from the rest of the student population and because of their constant exposure and elevated status on campus, college student-athletes are typically placed in situations that cause stress and anxiety.  Now this is not a valid excuse for a student-athlete to go on a drinking binge or neglect the rules obeyed by the rest of society, but we do understand that you are under constant pressure:
·         Balancing sports and academics
·         Adapting to social challenges
·         Success and failure on field and in classroom
·         Injuries
·         Weight management
·         Sports career ends due to injury or eligibility
Alcohol abuse is a chronic problem among college athletes, including football players. According to Dr. Gary Wadler, professor at New York University School of Medicine and author of "Drugs and the Athlete", alcohol is the No. 1 substance abused by athletes. It is estimated that college students in America drink about 34 gallons of alcohol every year.  Surveys have revealed that over 80 percent of college athletes are abusing alcohol, with a majority of athletes admitting that the drinking problem started before the end of high school.

How does alcohol affect me or my team?


The following information represents the number of negative consequences experienced as a result of alcohol consumption in the last 12 months:

Experienced as a result of alcohol/drug use










Missed Class





Poor Test or Project Performance





Missed or Late to Practice





Poor Athletic Performance





Driven Under the Influence





Memory Loss





Done Something Later Regretted





Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse has a variety of dangerous chronic and acute side effects on college athletes and their teams.  athletic performance can be hampered even with the smallest amounts of alcohol; some common side-effects are, hand tremors, slowed reaction time, poor balance, nutritional deficiencies, problems tracking, weakness, slowed hand-eye coordination. Lastly chronic alcohol abuse can cause myopathy, a condition that results in muscle weakness, damage or wasting.

Not every college student-athlete is at risk of being a substance abuser. Some individuals can drink responsibly and never abuse alcohol, but some individuals may develop a problem and will need help. As a coach, counselor, or concerned teammate it is important to note who might be at-risk for developing an alcohol-related problem.  Symptoms of substance abuse that may be observed in an athlete population include:
·         drinking in secrecy
·         feelings of guilt about drinking
·         lying about drinking
·         needing an increased amount of alcohol to produce the desired effects
·         alcohol-induced amnesia or blackouts
Student-athletes who display any of these symptoms might be experiencing problems related to their alcohol use.  If you don’t want the success of your team to suffer because of your own, or your teammate(s) alcohol consumption please become educated on the dangers of alcohol consumption and how to (if at all) consume it responsibly.
Many student-athletes struggle with stress management and choose poor coping strategies, such as alcohol.  If you want to learn more about coping strategies, or who to contact on your campus please consider the following:
Athletic Trainer
Registered Dietician
Campus Health Services
Off campus treatment centers
Individual groups on campus
Other Family members

Additional locations to search for information and help:
http://www.drugfreesport.com/rec (If you are a subscribing member please view Recreational Drugs)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Alcohol – Is it affecting your athletic performance?

73.2 % of college athletes who drink believe that their alcohol use has no effect on their athletic performance.  Well, I’m sorry to tell you that alcohol does have an effect on your performance both on the field and in life.
Effects of alcohol (A few examples)
·         Memory retention – large amount occurs during sleep.  Blackout after drinking, or drink before bed and you stand the chance of disrupting sleep cycle and not retaining all the information you learned.  (Ever wonder why you didn’t remember that cute girl or boy’s phone number?)
·         Hydration – drinking decrease the body’s state of hydration and this leads to that wonderful hangover you experience the next day.
·         Injury – dehydration, poor food choices, depletion of vital nutrients and poor sleep = Injuries or sickness for you and/or teammates.
We know that most college students drink 0-4 drinks when they party and 1 in 5 choose not to drink at all, but the athlete population is different.  The NCAA Substance Use Survey reported that within the last 12 months 83.1% of respondents in all divisions reported alcohol use.  College athletes are more likely to drink than non-athletic students and are also prone to binge drinking. 
Binge Drinking
*        5 or more drinks for men, and 4 or more for women in about 2 hours
*        More common among men
*        Highest percentage in the 18- to 20-year-old group (51%).
Alcohol consumption is the most abused drug in collegiate sports and in professional and Olympic sports.

There is so much more information to cover, but we cannot do it justice in this blog alone, but below you will find several resources to pass along to children, student-athletes, coaches, teachers, and more.

Tewksbury, R., Higgins, G. E., & Mustaine, E. E. (2008). Binge drinking among college athletes and non-athletes. Deviant Behavior, 29(4), 275-293.