College Athletes and Drug Use

Athletes are known for their ability to perform and to be the best at what they do. In addition to being supreme on the field, track, court, and arena, many have been known for the use of alcohol as well as legal and illegal substances as early as adolescence. Research provides insight into just how often athletes use, the reasons why some use, and preventative measures that can be taken to reduce and eventually eliminate alcohol, drugs, and other substances within the sporting community.

How many athletes report using substances?

· Collegiate athletes report consuming 6.52 alcohol drinks per week, which is significantly higher than their male and female schoolmates who do not participate in a sport (Henne et al, 2013).

· A survey of athletes across the United States participating in NCAA sports determined that there is also use of performance enhancement substances, which can include illegal as well as legal organic substances that enhance their athletic abilities (Henne et al, 2013).

· 85% of collegiate-level athletes have used energy drinks, prescription drugs or dietary supplements to improve their performance level before a game. Energy drinks were the most prevalently used among athletes, followed by dietary supplements and finally prescribed medications (Hoyte et al, 2013).

· Athletes also report using anabolic steroid inhalers not given to then by a physician.

Why are athletes using?

· The team norm seems to be the leading most factor among athletes who use. Athletes who perceived that they are using no more than their teammates or friends will be more likely to participate in activities that include drugs and alcohol (Dams-O’Connor et al, 2007).

· Some substances are used to decrease anxiety brought on by unknown outcomes of games, matches or tournaments, and to aid in team cohesiveness.

· Perceived benefits such as increased oxygen uptake, or better performances.

How to reduce or stop the use of substances and alcohol:

· Education, intervention and support;

· Alternative coping skills (reading, meditation social-skill building);

· Healthier ways to improve their athletic abilities such as drinking water and making healthier food choices; and

· Shedding light on the true effects that drug use can have on an athletes’ career and quite possibly their life.

Students seeking to learn more about the possible impact of substances on athletic or academic performance, can contact WSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (313) 577-3398 or stop by our office at 552 Student Center Building between 9 am – 4 pm Monday-Friday for an initial assessment.

Dams-O’Connor, K., Martins, J.L., Martens, M.P. (2007). Social norms and alcohol consumption among intercollegiate athletes: The role of athlete and non-athlete reference groups. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2657-2666.

Hoyte, C.O., Albert, D., Heard, K.J. (2013). The use of energy drinks, dietary supplements, and prescription medications by United States college students to enhance athletic performance. Journal of Community Health, 38, 575–580.

Henne, K., Koh,B., McDermott, V. (2013). Coherence of drug policy in sports: Illicit inclusion and illegal inconsistencies. Performance Enhancement and Health, 2, 48-55

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