It a common belief that student athletes use alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons. While some student athlete drug use patterns reflect those of their nonathletic peers, there are a few subtle differences.

Athletes at universities are given more incentives not to use alcohol and drugs, and many may be subject to drug testing. Unfortunately, college athletes seem to have a higher risk of addiction than non-athletes, which is one of the reasons that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has instituted some new targeted substance abuse prevention measures.

Why College Athletes Are at Greater Risk for Addiction

Student athletes competing at the collegiate level face a tremendous amount of stress on several fronts. Not only do athletes spend a great deal of time practicing and playing their college sport, but they also must maintain their academic standing to keep their sports eligibility. For example, a typical Division I college football player devotes an average of 43.3 hours per week to their sport. This is 3.3 hours more than a typical full-time job and does not count the hours required for class attendance and study time.

It is no wonder that the demands put on college athletes are overwhelming for some students. Alcohol and drug use among these students may be a way to blow off steam and relax, but there are other reasons that student athletes have a greater risk for addiction. Some athletes turn to performance-enhancing drugs to help them meet the demands of this busy lifestyle. Others suffer from injuries and, rather than jeopardize scholarship funds or team status, become reliant on prescription pain medication or other drugs to avoid the perception of failure.

What is Being Done to Help Addicted Athletes

The NCAA has a crystal clear drug and alcohol policy, with testing programs in place for student athletes. In addition to testing, the NCAA has become heavily involved in addiction education and prevention through a variety of programs.

The NCAA’s Sport Science Institute now provides each of its schools with a “Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Tool Kit” aimed at educating student athletes about the risks associated with substance abuse and providing campus administrators with guidelines for helping students who are exhibiting high-risk behaviors.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for College Athletes

A large part of the NCAA’s new program centers around being more engaged with each school’s student athletes to accomplish several objectives. Educating students ahead of time can avoid some future problems with alcohol and drugs. When a problem does occur, coaches, professors, and even peers will be better equipped to intervene on the student athlete’s behalf to get him or her the help needed.

If substance abuse treatment is necessary, student athletes should get the help that they need as soon as possible. Drug abuse among young people, even athletes, can have serious consequences. Not only will drugs impact an athlete’s performance both on and off the field, but they can also lead to life-threatening health conditions and other high-risk behaviors.

Fortunately, drug addiction is treatable with the right substance abuse treatment program that includes counseling, therapy, medication, and other tools designed to help an addict begin the journey in recovery. Contact The Recovery Village now to learn about our substance abuse treatment program for student athletes or to discuss your situation with one of our addiction specialists.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.