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Drug Abuse Among Athletes

Drug abuse among athletes is a recognized problem in sports and the abuse of drugs has been implicated at every level of competition. Athletes, coaches, trainers, and health professionals must be alert to the possibility of drug abuse in athletes and the catastrophic effects many of these substances have on the cardiovascular system. The issue of drug abuse and the use of performance-enhancing drugs has been an issue among world-class athletes and Olympians for decades.? Some athletes will do almost anything to gain a competitive advantage despite the dire warnings of the negative psychological and physical effects from the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.? Drug abuse in general and the specific use of performance-enhancing drugs is unfortunately on the upswing. Even the threat of death is evidently not a deterrent as long as victory is more likely to be achieved.?

Why Athletes Abuse Drugs

Athletes might use drugs for therapeutic, recreational or social reasons, as performance-enhancing aids, or to mask the presence of other drugs during drug testing. The American College of Sports Medicine reported in 2000 that the abuse of recreational drugs, such as cocaine, among athletes far outweighs the abuse of -enhancing drugs. Athletes are thought to be vulnerable to recreational drug abuse because of some combination of the following variables: fame, fortune, free time, and a feeling of invincibility. Recreational drugs are largely performance-impairing drugs.

Drug abuse among athletes is not always the outcome related to the use of substances or medication by athletes. Drugs may also be very useful tools in sports medicine.? Imagine undergoing surgery without painkilling medications or treating a serious infection without antibiotics.? Some medications offset intense pain and also enhance the process of healing.?

So, drugs are not the problem as long as they're being used in a legal, prescribed manner, under the supervision of trained medical professionals. Substance abuse, inappropriate medication usage, and the use of banned substances in the world of competitive sports is a problem. As we're all aware, substance abuse occurs not only with performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, but also with so-called recreational or social drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.

Athletes and Cocaine Use

Cocaine use among athletes has been associated with aortic dissection, endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, deep vein thrombosis, cardiac dysrhythmia, and stroke. Marijuana use among athletes has shown to lead to decreased exercise performance, increased stroke volume, and increased heart rate. Excessive alcohol ingestion may increase the risk of stroke threefold in young athletes. The highest incidence of stroke occurs in non-alcoholic men who drink more than 300 grams on weekends. (12 ounces of beer = 13 grams). Alcohol abuse should be considered in athletes with new-onset hypertension or with unexplained stroke.

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