Many Americans, including young teens and adolescents, are fans of one or more sports, such as football, soccer, baseball and others. Knowing how influential sports can be on people, especially on young viewers, it can be disconcerting to know that multiple sports players abuse drugs and alcohol. In 2002, a former professional baseball player estimated that around half of the players in the baseball big leagues were using steroids and he admitted to both steroid and cocaine use. In 2003, a random MLD drug test of more than 1,000 players found that five to seven percent of them were positive. In 2008, Major League Soccer handed out its first suspensions to players for using performance-enhancing drugs. That same year, the NFL suspended six players for violating the league’s drug policy, and in 2011, the NFL became the first major American sports league to conduct blood testing for steroids. While these professional athletes may be setting a bad example for young viewers, it is good to know that others, such as the Indianapolis Colts team, are trying to change this trend.
The Indianapolis Colts partnered with the Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Indiana prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force to create a contest asking high school students to take a pledge not to abuse or share prescription drugs. This contest ran until October 22, 2014 with the winner, Martinsville High School, earning a pep rally and a $5,000 award from the Colts to reward their efforts. The high school reported 100 percent student body participation with more than 1,500 students pledging not to abuse or share prescription drugs.
The goal of this contest is to educate the youth at participating high schools in Indiana about the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse. Not only does the contest seek to raise awareness at the schools but at the Colts’ games too. The partnership between the Colts and the Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force allows them to raise awareness about the dangers connected to prescription drug abuse during games, special events and Colts’ radio and TV programming. Both the team and organization officials are excited to be part of the effort which could end up saving young lives.
Events like this raise awareness about the need to halt and prevent drug abuse, while also emphasizing the positive influence that public figures can have on young minds. It is hoped that programs like this one will encourage other national sports teams to join the effort to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse amongst adolescents and teens.
When it comes to drug abuse, it is especially important that teens are educated and warned about not only the dangers associated with substance abuse, but also with the long-term consequences that will come with it. At least 2.2 percent of teens and adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age still abuse prescription drugs with at least 8.8 percent still abusing illicit drugs. However contests like the one being put on by the Colts may yet help to diminish these numbers as these professional athletes take a stand as positive role models. It is also a hope that the actions of the Colts team in Indiana may spark a chain reaction among other teams across the nation to use their public attention to educate and warn young viewers against the dangers of drugs.
To learn more about substance abuse treatment programs for teens, please call 866-615-7266.
Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer