Do Professional Football Players Think Concussions Are Worth The Money Painkiller Abuse in the NFL: A Hefty Price for Entertainment

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Painkiller Abuse in the NFL: A Hefty Price for Entertainment

America loves its football—watching NFL games with friends and family on crisp fall Sundays is a huge part of our culture. But that fun comes at a cost to the pros, who often face off in pursuit of touchdowns. A study of retired NFL players found that prescription painkiller abuse is rampant among NFL players and that abuse continues well into the player’s retirement. The study found that retired NFL players were 4 times more likely to abuse painkillers than the general public.

Many players said they abused painkillers so they could play through sports injuries as well as pain from past injuries that didn’t go away. Many also said they were unaware of the risks of such abuse or felt they had no choice. Despite the pain, he felt the pressure to play.

The problem of painkiller abuse

Painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin are opioid drugs like heroin and can become addictive when abused. Yes, Vicodin and heroin are in the same class of drugs!

When prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be used responsibly to relieve pain, treat diarrhea, or control cough. Inside our bodies, opioids bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gut, like pieces of a puzzle. When they do, they can block the experience of pain. For example, morphine is sometimes given to people before or after surgery. However, opioids can also affect the parts of the brain that control feelings of pleasure, creating a feeling of euphoria that can make people want to take them again and again even in the absence of pain. When people take them like that, opioids can actually change the way the brain works, causing the intense cravings that are part of addiction.

Do we expect too much from pro athletes?

The study found that many NFL athletes taking Ketorolac, a drug that reduces inflammation, also helps reduce pain from injuries. A growing concern about ketorolac is that it thins the blood and may make athletes more susceptible to the effects of concussions. What’s more, athletes using drugs only to cover up pain, not for the specific injury diagnosed by their doctor, may increase their risk of injury because they feel less pain while on the field.

Should we continue to push our pro athletes to the point of using these prescription drugs to continue playing? Maybe, maybe not. We do not yet know the long-term effects of this type of drug abuse.

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