The NCAA estimates that approximately 480,000 young people play some type of college sport each year. Most athletes experience many benefits from sport participation, all while making new friends and keeping their bodies strong and limber.
However, college athletes still experience the challenges other young adults face, including substance use. In some cases, the challenge of sports and pressure to succeed may make substance use feel intriguing. Like all of us, even the greatest athletes are also prone to addiction and mental health struggles.
College Pressure and Addiction: Athletic and Academic
College athletes can bring a college or university a significant amount of money. Championship bowls and winning athletes generate a great deal of publicity for schools, while ticket and merchandise sales help boost school income. Athletes at many schools might face intense pressure to win, and if they are attending school on a scholarship, their ability to meet tuition fees might be dependent on their ability to win games. This pressure to win can lead to anxiety and increased stress levels.
Students who participate in sports are also required to complete other normally stressful tasks associated with college, including:
- Long lectures
- Intensive homework and study sessions
- Pressure to maintain grades
- Living away from home and family
- Lifestyle changes after high school
- Preparation and concerns about future careers
The combination of intense athletics and significant study can raise the stress level of almost anyone, and sometimes, drugs seem like an easy way to soothe the pain.
Alcohol and Drug Use in College
Many student athletes are tempted to boost their performance with steroid-based drugs that can make them work harder, faster and more efficiently. Unfortunately, these drugs can also function as a gateway to a more persistent addiction issue.
A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concludes that college athletes who use performance-enhancing substances are at higher risk of alcohol and recreational drug abuse compared to athletes who don’t use such drugs. The study looked at 234 male athletes who admitted to using steroids, stimulants and weight loss supplements and found that those same athletes were more likely to drink heavily and use marijuana, cocaine, and other recreational drugs. Much research has been done on college athletes and performance enhancers, but this study is noteworthy because it’s the first of its kind to look at whether college athletes who take performance enhancers are also more likely to misuse other substances.
It’s possible, as mentioned, that some people take additional drugs just to help them to deal with the stresses they face due to their dual status as athletes and students. It’s also possible, according to the researchers in this study, that people who abuse performance-enhancing drugs have an innate tendency to seek out novel experiences. They may fall into drugs due to their thought patterns and habits, along with their lifestyles.
Drug Rehab for Athletes
Dealing with an addiction isn’t easy for a college athlete. Athletes may have trained for years to reach the peak of performance, and they might feel indebted to the coaches and teammates that contribute to their success. Leaving all of these people behind to deal with an addiction might seem daunting, but it really might be the best option.
In treatment, people can gain control over their addictions, so they can return to the game with a clear head and a healthy body. If you need help with treatment for a drug addiction, call The Canyon at our toll-free number. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day.