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04-03 National Youth Sports Safety Month: Teens involved in risky sports more likely to abuse opioids, says study

Posted in Teens, Treatment

National Youth Sports Safety Month: Teens involved in risky sports more likely to abuse opioids, says study

Injury and pain are common in most outdoor sports, especially, competitive sports or those requiring a high degree of stress, strain and stamina. Doctors often prescribe opioids to sportspersons for pain treatment. A recent study by a group of researchers from the University of Michigan revealed how high school athletes participating in high-contact sports like hockey are more likely to use heroin and prescription medications for non-medicinal purposes.

The study titled, “Nonmedical use of prescription opioids and heroin use among adolescents involved in competitive sports,” published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in December 2016 evaluated the pervasiveness of nonmedical use of prescription opioids (NUPOs), heroin use and the simultaneous use of both kinds of substances among teens studying in grade 12. The youth were involved in 16 different sports, including hockey, football, lacrosse and wrestling, among others.

The researchers examined details of more than 21,000 students from the 2006-14 units of the Monitoring the Future (MTF), study. Not much difference was observed between teenagers studying in grade 12 playing at least one competitive sport and those with no involvement regarding abuse of prescription pain relievers, heroin and co-occurring use of these drugs.

The scientists found that the assessment did not yield any of the drug use outcomes. Nevertheless, grade 12 students who had been playing hockey were more likely to use heroin during the previous year and coinciding consumption of both heroin and non-prescribed addictive substances. One of the co-authors of the study Philip Veliz, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, said, “Hockey may simply have riskier youth who are involved in the sport, or these athletes have greater access to opioids given that it is predominantly populated by white, middle-class youth.”

The scientists revealed that roughly 8.3 percent participants showed non-medical use of medicines that had not been recommended and 0.9 percent reported use of heroin during the past one year. An estimated 0.6 percent respondents manifested signs of co-occurring heroin and nonprescription opioid abuse during the last one year. The results showed that 69.3 percent seniors were involved in at least one competitive sport during the past one year.

Assessing link between risky sports and opioids

Participation in sports like weightlifting and wrestling were linked to slightly increased possibilities of the use of nonprescription opioids during the past given year, while involvement in soccer was moderately associated with the lower chance of non-prescription opioids during the past one year compared with respondents who had not taken part in these sports during the past year.

Involvement in both hockey and weightlifting was to a major extent linked to increased probabilities of the use of heroin during the past one year when contrasted with participants who showed no interest in these sports. Stressing on the importance of the observations, Veliz said, “The findings provide critical information to inform doctors and parents of the potential risks associated with participating in certain high contact sports and the need to monitor the use and misuse of prescription drugs that have high abuse potential.”

Road to recovery

As per results of a recent NPR-Truven Health Analytics poll, opioid use continues to rise in the U.S. despite health concerns. The poll suggested that people do not mind consuming more medications despite being aware of the risks involved. The month of April, every year is observed as the National Youth Sports Safety Month, to spread awareness about safety in youth sports.

The Rancho San Diego facility of Sovereign Health ensures necessary and evidence-based treatment to those aged between 12 and 17 years. Mental health specialists at the facility provide innovative and extremely specialized behavioral health treatment programs for males and females with substance abuse problems, including dependence on opioids. If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction, it is imperative to seek timely treatment. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-615-7266 or chat online for more information about the substance abuse treatment centers and drug rehab facilities in your vicinity.

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