What Channel Does The Nfl Football Game Come On Today Painkiller Abuse in the NFL: A Hefty Price for Entertainment

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Painkiller Abuse in the NFL: A Hefty Price for Entertainment

America loves soccer – watching an NFL game on a crisp fall Sunday with our friends and family is a big part of our culture. But that fun comes at a cost for the pros who are approached time and time again for a touchdown. A study of retired NFL players found that prescription painkiller abuse among NFL players is rampant, and that abuse continues even into a player’s retirement. The study found that retired NFL players are 4 times more likely to abuse pain relievers than other people.

Many players said they abused painkillers so they could play through pain from injuries they might sustain in a game, as well as pain from past injuries that hadn’t gone away. Many also said that they did not know about the risks of such abuse or that they felt they had another option. They felt the pressure to keep playing, despite the pain.

The problem with painkiller abuse

Pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin are opioid drugs, like heroin, and their misuse can lead to addiction. Yes, Vicodin and heroin are in the same class of drugs!

When prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be used responsibly to reduce pain, treat diarrhea, or control coughing. Inside our bodies, opioids bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gut, like pieces of a puzzle. When they do, they can block the experience of pain. For example, people are sometimes given morphine before or after surgery. However, opioids can also affect parts of the brain that control the sensation of pleasure, producing a feeling of euphoria that makes people want to take them over and over again even when they are not feeling pain. When people keep taking them like this, opioids can actually change the way the brain works, causing strong cravings that are part of having an addiction.

Do we expect too much from professional athletes?

The study found that many NFL athletes also used ketorolac, a medication that reduces swelling, to help dull pain from injuries. A growing concern about ketorolac is that it thins the blood and could make players more susceptible to the effects of concussions. Also, players who use medication just to cover pain, not for a specific injury diagnosed by their doctor, may increase their risk of injury because they feel less pain while on the field.

Should we continue to push our professional athletes to the point of using these prescription drugs to keep playing? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t yet know the long-term implications of this type of drug abuse.

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