What Time Are The Championship Football Games On Sunday 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’s love of watching an NFL football game on a fall Sunday with our friends and families is a huge part of our culture. But that fun comes at a price for the pros, who are scrambling again and again in search of a touchdown. A study of retired NFL players found that prescription painkiller abuse among NFL players is widespread, and abuse continues even into retirement. A study found that retired NFL players were 4 times more likely to abuse painkillers than other people.

Many players said they abused painkillers to combat pain from injuries they might sustain in the game, as well as pain from earlier injuries that didn’t go away. Many also said they didn’t know the risks of such abuse or felt like they had a choice. They felt the pressure to play, despite the pain.

Problem with abuse of painkillers

Painkillers such as Vicodin and OciContin are opioid drugs, like heroin, and their abuse can lead to addiction. Yes, Vicodin and heroin are in the same drug class!

When prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be used responsibly to reduce pain, treat diarrhea, or control coughs. In our bodies, opioids connect to receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gut, much like puzzle pieces. 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 makes people want to take them again and again even when they don’t hurt. When people continue to take them like that, opioids can actually change the way the brain works, causing the strong cravings that are part of addiction.

Are we expecting too many professional athletes?

The study found that many NFL athletes also used ketorolac, a drug that reduces swelling, to help relieve pain from injuries as well. A growing concern about ketorolac is that it thins the blood and could make players more susceptible to the effects of concussions. Furthermore, players who use medication only to cover pain and not for a specific injury diagnosed by a doctor may increase their risk of injury because they feel less pain while on the field.

Should we continue to push our professional athletes to the point of using these prescription drugs to keep playing? Maybe maybe not. We still don’t know the long-term implications of this type of drug abuse.

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