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Study reveals surprising link between athletics and addiction

Study reveals surprising link between athletics and addiction

23 May | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Sportsmen, under the burden of expectations from their followers, managers and their own self, have the pressure to not only maintain but also improvise their performances and become better with every new game. Unable to cope with this pressure and stress, athletes sometimes fall prey to some kind of addiction.

Laurie de Grace, a master’s graduate from the faculty of physical education and recreation in the University of Alberta, studied the relationship between athletics and addiction. However, rather than understanding the pattern from athletics to addiction, she took the reverse route and interviewed the sportsmen recovering from addiction. The study was published online in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise in January 2017.

Athletics and addiction: What leads to what?

To analyze how sports can increase the risk of addiction, Laurie selected a group of people recovering from any kind of addiction. She ensured that the participants were in anyway engaged to the sports, which included recreational athletes, sportspersons who were dropped out of school mainly due to drugs and alcohol, and the largest group, elite athletes.

Sportsmen from different sports including martial arts, gymnastics, rowing and dance, and team sports, hockey in particular, were inducted into the study. As the study progressed, patterns associated with culture of the sport began to surface. It was found that factors like social acceptance, normalization of drugs and alcohol, and examples set by role models (independent of the culture of substance use) had a minimal role in curbing addiction. In fact, things worked antagonistic.

Alex Clark, professor in the faculty of nursing in the same university, who helped to model the study, stated, “The cultures are quite machismo and the pressures on the young people are quite high.” He further said that coaches often ignore the problems faced by athletes and often encourage the spirit of work hard, play hard culture.

One of the study participants, who had played junior A hockey and had started his addiction after joining the team, shared his experience of being floated with loads of beer in the team bus by the team owner himself. Coming from a family with a background of alcoholism, he was initially reluctant to drinking but later on drank with teammates to get along with them.

Hyper-competitiveness unique to sportspersons

In addition to a positive association between athletics and addiction, the study group also reported another common trait i.e., hyper-competitiveness, an outcome of heavy substance use and abuse. This sense of competitiveness drove them to do best in what they did and addiction fueled their goals.

Grace revealed that there were some elite athletes who gave in to addiction after losing their ability to participate in sport due to an injury or inability to find a place in the team. But she is particularly concerned about the underage athletes because many of the participants interviewed have siblings with no addiction issues.

It is important to protect athletes from addiction when they are adolescents and are most vulnerable to substance use and abuse. As per Wendy Rodgers, a professor in the faculty of physical education and recreation and project supervisor, people are less likely to develop substance dependence if they do not not start it by the age of 21.

Treating addiction at the right time is imperative

Every person goes through a time in life when he or she is vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction without realizing how it can adversely affect his or her whole life. It is important to know the path one is treading rather than regretting later in life. Getting professional help as early as possible can help people minimize the damage.

Detox is an effective technique to help people detach from alcoholism and other addictions. The primary step in recovery treatment is aimed at removing the toxins accumulated in the body from long-term substance abuse. The Detox Facilities Texas representatives can offer support to people battling any type of addiction. If you are actively searching for the best detox centers in Texas, you can chat online with experts or call our 24/7 helpline 866-671-4308.