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Athletes, Addiction And Fentanyl

Professionals and amateur athletes spend much time pushing their young bodies to the limit. But even professional athletes are human and prone to injury, especially painful knee, hip, back, and shoulder injuries. For football players, for example, there are injuries at every game, with sports physicians on-site to help with steroid shots, taping bracing their bodies. But often, one injury too many as an athletic person can cause a person to halt activity completely.

Surgeries and chronic pain can take their toll on people constantly pushing their physical limits. The pain of their injuries is often treated with opioids such as Oxycontin or fentanyl. Both drugs are highly addictive and have been prescribed for athletes regularly. When this happens, there is always a chance of dependence or opioid use disorder. People who misuse these drugs are highly likely to overdose at some point.

Fentanyl As a Pain Reliever – Does It Help?

Fentanyl is often used to help people recovering from major surgeries, cancer, and other major medical events. In addition, many professional athletes are believed to have a higher tolerance to pain medication, especially if they have taken it often over the years. As a result, doctors may prescribe opioids if they think other drugs will not provide adequate relief.

Opioids are not recommended for regular use but are sometimes prescribed for acute injuries and surgeries. Science isn’t clear if opioids are better at providing pain relief than other therapeutic methods. Ice, heat, rest, and analgesic or NSAIDs can often provide adequate relief the day after surgery, for example.

Yet many orthopedic doctors prefer to prescribe opioids for athletes, perhaps under the mistaken belief that an athletic person is “too healthy” to become addicted. So much sports competition relies on taping a person up and putting them back into a competition; opioids can relieve acute and chronic pain. This can allow an athlete to ignore fixable problems and rely on pharmaceuticals until the injury has seriously progressed.

Athletes may use painkillers first for their injury and then let go and relax. They may not realize it at the time, but this can lead to habitual misuse of medication and drug tolerance/dependence.

Prescription Opioids, Including Fentanyl Use, Are Common in Sports

Prescription opioids are medications prescribed to treat severe pain. For example, a doctor might prescribe an opioid painkiller to a patient recovering from dental surgery or an athlete who suffered an injury. Prescription opioids are similar to the endorphins our bodies naturally produce to relieve pain and produce effects like heroin. They are usually prescribed for short-term use; however, due to their powerful effects, they pose the risk of addiction for anyone.

Many people who take opioids take them for a few days and then return to non-opioid pain relief. Longer-term opioid use can cause physical dependence and addiction. Medical guidelines try to dissuade doctors from using opioids as a long-term strategy.

Athletes, like everyone else, are human and not immune to addiction. Other people enjoy the euphoria from opioids and decide to take them even if they’re not in pain. Eventually, a person who takes opioids regularly develops a tolerance and needs more drugs to get the same effects. This can lead to unsafe practices such as purchasing fentanyl on the street or through an online source. Higher doses of fentanyl can also mean higher chances of overdose.

Other opioids that athletes are prescribed include OxyContin, Percocet, hydrocodone, aka Vicodin, morphine, codeine, and Demerol. Fentanyl is one of the most potent prescription opioids, 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Its use is usually reserved for significant pain, such as surgeries and late-stage cancer.

Many professional athletes have struggled with opioid use disorder. Tiger Woods had a significant back injury that sidelined his career and ultimately led to a struggle with opioid use disorder.

Getting Help for Opioid Use Disorder

If you or somebody you love struggles with opioid use, you’re not alone! Sadly, fentanyl may give temporary pleasure, and addiction can take away all the other things that provide joy. If you’re an athlete that tests for drugs, opioids are a disqualifier. If you’re taking drugs to help with aches and pains after surfing, you could be doing worse damage to your body. Addiction often takes over a person's entire life, causing lasting damage to relationships, careers, and finances.

Drugs and athleticism aren’t compatible; you’ll permanently lose. You deserve a serene, healthy life where you can do what you love without the spiral of addiction. Get in touch to learn how to reclaim your life, find serenity, and work towards all-around health. Call us at US: (949) 279-1376 or MX: (612) 153-5726.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.