NFL Gets Yellow Flag For Opioid Misuse

Professional athletes are willing to cross the limit in opioid pain medication use for one reason – to be able to continue to perform near-peak despite injuries.

As per research* by Washington University, retired National Football League (NFL) players misused opioid pain medications at a rate four times greater than the average. The study provides a rare look into the NFL’s relationship with medications and how team doctors manage the pain in a physically bruising sport to keep players on the field. “Professional football players and athletes have a long life to live after retirement and misuse or abuse of opioid pain medication can have serious long-term consequences, including addiction,” says Dr. Indra Cidambi, Addiction Medicine Expert & Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy.

Dr. Cidambi believes most professional athletes and football players do not get the complete picture about the medications they are taking in order to make informed decisions. “They need to understand that opioid pain medications are designed to treat acute pain in the short-term and they should be used in conjunction with rehabilitative therapy so that the patient can be switched to non-addictive medications.” Professional athletes need to consider the following:

Opioid Use Does Not Enhance Physical Performance

Professional football players have to realize that using opioid pain medications is more likely to slow a person down than enhance physical capabilities. “Professional athletes are willing to cross the limit in opioid pain medication use for one reason – to be able to continue to perform near-peak despite injuries,” says Dr. Cidambi. Opioids, however, can cause euphoria, decrease anxiety, provide a false sense of invincibility and illusions of…

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