Addiction Can Happen to Anyone�??Including Athletes

The author, pitching in a baseball game

Dr. Nikhil Verma and Steve Kashul talk with Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof about assisting athletes with opiod addiction; the opiod epidemic and its affect on sports;?the importance of eliminating the stigma around athletes seeking help for addiction.

Whenever news breaks that a famous athlete is struggling with addiction, most people shake their heads and wonder, how can that happen? In our culture, athletes are revered as heroes and role models. Their skills, their power, and even sometimes their looks all help them gain fame and prestige, both on and off the field or court. So the fact that these ?perfect? people can deal with substance use disorder often comes as a surprise.

Famous athletes like Darryl Strawberry, Michael Phelps, Andre Agassi, and the great Lawrence Taylor have struggled with addiction. The use of performance-enhancing drugs or painkillers, the partying that comes with fortune and fame, and the adjustment period involved in life after an exciting sports career all can put athletes at risk of addiction.

Many sports are mental games. So why would these professional athletes who have worked so hard to get to this place in their career put substances in their body that affect thinking, as well as their physical performance? The answer is that everyone one of us is human and therefore impressionable. No one is immune. We can all fall prey to a very clever and insidious disease that can take over your life from the very first time you try drugs.

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