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Author: Shernide Delva
The benefits of playing sports are endless. Any form of physical activity is good for the mind, body and spirit. Team sports teach you accountability, social skills, leadership, among many other traits. Growing up, I was involved in playing soccer and basketball. I was an average player at best, however, I learned so much about myself being involved in sports. I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, both mentally and physically.
However, the biggest danger of playing sports is getting injured. Injuries and sports go hand and hand. A study even revealed that athletes could have a greater risk of developing a dependency to drugs due to their high risk of injury.
See, it starts off quite innocently. An athlete suffers an injury and is prescribed an opioid painkiller to ease the pain during the healing process. The next thing you know, that same athlete finds themselves with an addiction to painkillers.
A recent article delves into this addiction crisis in sports. A Maryland doctor admits he sees this occurrence on a daily basis. What starts out as a simple sports injury leads into abuse of powerful, narcotic painkillers. And when the pills run out, teens often turn to a cheaper alternative: heroin.
In the article, Conner Ostrowski is used as an example. Conner was a varsity team wrestler with plans to attend college on a full scholarship. Suddenly, Conner’s plans were derailed when he suffered a life-changing injury and cracked the base of his spine during a match.
As you can imagine, this was very devastating for Conner. Conner was told he could never wrestle again. As a precaution, his mother told his surgeon not to prescribe him opiate-based medication. Addiction ran in the family, she said. However, Conner’s pain consumed him. Soon, he even became depressed.
A family member who had extra Percocet pills offered Conner a full bag. The rest, as explained by mother, Andrea Wildason, was history:
“So he took the Percocet, and you know, all the anxiety and the depression and the racing thoughts in his brain, he sort of went, ‘Ah,’ you know, and his back pain went away after one pill.”
Percocet is a highly addictive opioid. Conner went through the bag quickly and tried to find more at school, but he could not afford the high street value cost, so he turned to a cheaper alternative: heroin.
“He was sleeping, nodding off all the time, and he was angry. He became mean,” Wildason said.
Conner’s story is all too common. A 2014 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found boys who participated in organized sports have higher odds of being prescribed opioid medication, putting them at greater risk of drug abuse.
Sports injuries, in many cases, are the gateway to drug addiction. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edward McDevitt says stories like these are all too common. Doctors are eager to help athletes get back to the team quickly.
“As a team doctor, you want to help them, so you give them medication, but sometimes you give them too strong a medication or on medication for too long, and once they’re on it for a length of time, they get addicted to it,” McDevitt said.
He said physicians need to take some responsibility.
“We have to realize that we are sometimes the ones who are steering these people on the road to addiction. We have to talk about the dangers of these drugs and how they should be used for a very short period of time,” McDevitt said.
McDevvitt believes other less addictive options should be explored before prescribing addictive painkillers. Alternatives like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be very effective. Even physical therapy and ice can go a long way in treating an injury.
As for Conner, after several failed attempts, he is now three years sober. The pain from his wrestling injury is still there but he has learned a valuable lesson.
“Pain doesn’t kill you. Addiction will, and he knows that. He knows that, and I hope everybody knows that,” Wildason said.
Parents should explore other pain relieving options that are less addictive. If that does not work, carefully monitoring narcotic prescriptions and asking for a smaller dose could help prevent drug abuse.
What do you think? Are sports injuries contributing to teens abusing pain medications? Pain is a real thing, however knowing the dangers of addiction can help avoid a major problem. If you are struggling, it is time to finally overcome your dependence to opioid medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
It truthfully isn’t anything new, although many people don’t often understand how prominent abusing cough syrup has become. There have been news stories and headlines before about teens abusing cough syrup, parents being warned of how to spot this kind of risk behavior, but still people don’t all seem to understand the gravity of this abuse.
Names like “sizzurp” AKA “purple drank” have been popularized by pop-culture, but these pertain to the cough syrup combination of codeine and promethazine, a harder to obtain mixture.
However medicine containing DXM is frequently sold over-the-counter. Although in some states, you need to be 18 years old to purchase it, it does not require a prescription which increases their general accessibility to those looking for a “household high.” The truth is, even over-the-counter this drug is deadly.
Abusing Cough Syrup
Cough syrup has been abused as a cheap high, but the dangers in the doses are so much more than many people suspect.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient in many brand-name cough suppressants such as:
DXM has long been abused by young adults to achieve a high, but abusing cough syrup means users must take multiple times the doses recommended for treating colds. Some abuse cough medicine by consuming an entire pack of gel caps or even multiple bottles of syrup.
The reality is that most people underestimate abusing cough syrup because it is legal and such a common thing found in almost every medicine cabinet across the country. However the danger in these doses makes abusing cough syrup a potentially lethal legal high.
The effect experienced from the abuse of DXM is typically categorized into four stages:
- Mild stimulation
- Euphoria and hallucinations
- Dissociative out of body state
- Complete dissociation with unresponsiveness
Different DXM Drug Effects
Chlorpheniramine, the antihistamine in Coricidin, causes “anticholinergic” effect in high doses, which has effects including:
Acetaminophen appears as the last active ingredient in Coricidin, as well as myriad other over-the-counter and prescription medications. This ingredient is frequently taken with other medications sometimes also containing the drug, making accidental overdoses a fairly frequent occurrence.
An overdose of Acetaminophen can cause delayed liver damage and can do enough damage to require an organ transplant.
The combination of cough syrup abuse and other substances often exaherbates the effects of the DXM and other drugs included in the cough syrup’s formula. This puts those abusing these over-the-counter meds at an even more elevated risk of causing some devastating damage.
Stacking the SAMHSA Stats
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has taken some interest in cough syrup abuse, and according to their stats:
- 1 million youth and young adults in the United States, ranging from ages 12 to 25, misuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines that contain dextromethorphan each year.
- Non-medical abuse of DXM results in approximately 6,000 emergency department visits annually in the U.S.
- Adolescents (ages 12 to 20) accounting for almost 50% of these emergency department visits
This phenomenon appears to be increasing throughout the country, even though cough syrup has never been as well known as other narcotic drugs. with potentially lethal consequences for those who partake.
A Medical Toxicology fellow at UCSF named Annie Arens stated calls to the California Poison Control Center concerning teens abusing Coricidin have jumped from 3% to 25% of all calls to the Center in the past few years, with no signs of slowing down.
Some teens are aware even of the dangers of acetaminophen overdose, purposely purchasing Coricidin to abuse that is acetaminophen-free. Yet they willingly take on the threats of overdosing on DXM and chlorpheniramine. Some are aware of the increased hazards of taking DXM with alcohol.
What many young people don’t seem to know is that when taken with antidepressants like MAO inhibitors or SSRIs, even in a regular daily dose, DXM may produce a life-threatening serotonin syndrome.
Either way despite all that has happened, some parents are still very unaware of the potential of abusing DXM cough syrups and how fatal it can be. Many parents and acquaintances often leave these substances around the house, oblivious to the perils that are blended into the medicine when young adults and teens misuse it to catch a cheap buzz. The truth is the buzz can kill, and the cost of life definitely should never be as cheap as a bottle of over-the-counter cough syrup.
Whether a drug is a street narcotic, prescription medication or an over-the-counter medicine drug abuse is dangerous and can even be deadly. Abusing drugs often leads to addiction and often stems from a much more complex problem, but there is real help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135