There are far more professional athletes addicted to drugs than most sporting organizations are willing to admit. The Olympics are one of the most challenging, most rewarding global sports events, and the pressure associated with competing drives many athletes to drugs to ensure they can participate.
Drug Use Among Injured Olympians
Around 13 out of every 100 participants in the Summer Olympics will suffer from an injury, most frequently due to overuse.1 Drug addictions, especially painkillers, are most common among injured Olympians.
Most of the time, athletes addicted to painkillers would have first been introduced to their drug of choice through a doctor’s prescription to temporarily manage the pain from an injury.
The feelings of euphoria, combined with the dissipation of their pain, often spur Olympians to continue using painkillers at a much higher dose or for much longer than prescribed.
Extensive use of painkillers and other drugs will eventually lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. At this point, Olympic athletes may find it impossible to live normally without regular doses of their drug of choice.
Athletes with a drug addiction who use narcotics while competing will eventually be caught due to the Olympics’ strenuous doping tests. Testing positive for a controlled substance could get you suspended, banned, or fined, which may mean the end of your Olympic career.
Despite this, many Olympic athletes still abuse drugs and disregard the consequences to their health and career.
Famous Olympians Who Were Caught Using Substances
Some of the most well-known Olympians who struggled with substance abuse include2,3,4:
- Swimmer Michael Phelps was arrested for drunk driving twice and was therefore suspended from USA Swimming and subsequently did not attend the 2015 Olympics.
- Cyclist Tyler Hamilton used performance-enhancing drugs and then tried to use someone else’s blood sample for a drug test.
- Cyclist Lance Armstrong also used various performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
- Decathlete Daniel Awde claimed many athletes, including himself, had ibuprofen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Drugs Olympians Are Most Commonly Abusing
The most commonly abused drugs by Olympic athletes include:
- Opioids: Drugs like oxycodone, Vicodin, and hydrocodone are often used to manage pain and keep playing despite injury.
- Stimulants: Drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and illicit stimulants like cocaine help increase concentration and boost energy.
- Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Especially anabolic steroids and diuretics, which give athletes a competitive edge over their peers.
Due to the widespread use of these drugs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned their use entirely.
Why Professional Athletes With Addictions Should Seek Help
Professional athletes addicted to painkillers can ruin their personal lives, relationships, and careers because of their dependence on the drug.
You need to seek help if you struggle to function normally without your drug of choice or find your drug use interferes with your life or does not follow your doctor’s prescription.
There are various treatment options available to athletes looking to quit their drug or alcohol use, including specialized programs that address prescription drug abuse.
These rehab programs typically start with medical detox to ease withdrawal and are followed by an inpatient residential treatment course to ensure you stay on the road to recovery.
If you or someone you love suffers from addiction, get in touch with our team today at (949) 427-9099 to get the assistance you need.