How Addiction Can Happen to Athletes (and How to Offer Support)

How Addiction Can Happen to Athletes (and How to Offer Support)

Athletes are famous for their prowess on the field, but they can also struggle with addiction. Even if they are heroes in their sport, they may seem to have it all together while secretly their lives are falling apart. Addiction can happen to anyone, especially athletes. It can help to offer support along the journey and help them find healing.

Mental Health

While professional athletes are used to testing their emotional and mental boundaries, they work hard and push themselves so they can be at peak performance. This drains a person after a while and taxes their mind and body. Drugs or alcohol can enter the scene anytime, but it is more likely when a person is vulnerable and worn out. Sports can be an escape from a life where it feels overwhelming. When that doesn’t work, drugs or alcohol can become the choice to numb out the feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, fear, stress, or whatever emotion is coming up. Even if an athlete is motivated to stay clean in their sport because they don’t want to be found to have used drugs, their athletic careers may end or something happens where they are forced to reckon with the consequences. 

When Competition Ends

The end of an athlete’s competitive career can signal a huge shift in their lives. At this time, they may be mourning the loss, grieving the absence of their friends from the sport, and the feel of competition. Driven by adrenaline, they may seek other adrenaline-based experiences for the thrill and high they used to get. Once a person gets hooked, it is hard to quit. Unlike athletics, it is much harder to give up drugs or alcohol. When an athlete is drawn to drugs or alcohol for the high or to do something different after the end of their careers, they may continue to struggle in a downward spiral which may ruin their entire lives. Drug addiction can happen to anyone and nobody is immune. 

How to Help

When athletes come to the end of their rope or hit rock bottom, they may reach out for help, or may not. Drug addiction can happen to athletes but they also need help to get back on their feet. They need both prevention and treatment support. Some ways to help them include:

  • Family and friends offer to do an intervention
  • Research and find support from treatment centers
  • Build connections to the recovery community to support post-rehab options

The biggest thing family and friends can do with a loved one who has an addiction is offer to support their journey of recovery unconditionally. No matter what, athlete or not, people with addiction often need both physical and mental support to recover. The more support they have, the better off they will be down the road of recovery. 

The Palmetto Center understands your needs with addiction. We are equipped to serve your individual needs and help provide you with what is needed for the journey. Our program provides a special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.