Sports Illustrated recently had a feature article on the dangers of heroin use by young athletes entitled “Smack Epidemic”. Painkillers like OxyContin and other prescription drugs become easy outs but the cost is high. Heroin is cheaper and accessible. According to the CDC, heroin overdose deaths rose from 2000 to 2010 but tripled in the following three years. It cuts across all demographics and young athletes have become a prime target. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a full 80% of all users arrive at heroin after abusing opiod painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. According to a study by the University of Michigan, by the time high school athletes are seniors approximately 11% will have used a narcotic pain reliever for nonmusical purposes. Bottom line this should raise red flags for parents, athletes, coaches, medical professionals and others as to their potential dangers. Take care in monitoring what medication are and are not being prescribed as well as the consistent use of any medications to placate pain. Prevention and many eyes are a key.
Jim Mackie, M.Ed., ATC, LAT