High school athletes who play contact sports more likely to misuse prescription stimulants throughout their 20s

A selection of sporting goods. Image credit: iStock

High school seniors who play contact sports are about 50% more likely to misuse prescription stimulants than those who don’t participate in these types of sports 10 years after graduation, according to a new study from the University of Michigan. .

Overall, 12th graders who participate in sports, whether contact or non-contact, are more likely than non-athletes to misuse prescription stimulants in young adulthood. High, says lead author Philip Veliz, associate research professor at UM School of Nursing.

In contrast, older adults who participate in non-contact sports are more likely than non-athletes to misuse stimulants, but less likely to misuse prescription opioids over the next decade.

This is the first national study to assess how participation in high school sports is associated with prescription drug abuse between ages 17-18 and 27-28. Data were collected from 4,772 US 12th graders between 2006 and 2017 and tracked for 10 years from the Monitoring the Future study.

Veliz et al. have evaluated contact sports (football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling), semi-contact sports (baseball, basketball, field hockey, soccer), and non-contact sports (cross-country, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, weightlifting). ).

Other important findings:

  • About 31% of all high school students said they abused prescription drugs at least once when they were 17-18 years old.
  • Regarding contact sports participation, the rate of prescribed stimulant abuse in the past year was 11% among 12th graders and increased to about 18% by 21-22 years.
Philip Veris
Philip Veris

“Prescription opioid misuse was higher among respondents who participated in contact sports during grade 12. However, participation in these types of sports was not associated with initiation of this type of drug use in young adulthood. No,” said Veliz.

Surprisingly, it should be noted that prescription opioid misuse among adolescents and young adults decreased due to reduced opioid availability and increased awareness of the risks of opioid misuse during this period. is.

Prescription drug abuse, both opioids and stimulants, has declined significantly among adolescents since 2010, Veliz said.

“However, this study found that some types of former high school athletes are at increased risk of misusing these substances, starting in early adulthood (between the ages of 19 and 21).” he said.

Veliz was surprised that adolescents who played non-contact sports were more likely to initiate stimulant abuse in young adulthood than those who did not. It can create an aversion to culture and physical harm, but this does not mean that participants do not value competitiveness.

Studies have shown that non-contact sports participants perform better academically and may view sports as resume makers in the admissions process. Additionally, stimulant drugs may appeal to this subgroup, as young adults typically misuse stimulant drugs because they typically mistakenly believe that they improve academic performance.

“The findings strengthen screening for adolescents, as nearly one in three high school students are involved in prescription drug abuse,” said DASH, the Center for Research on Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, and Health. Sean Esteban McCabe, senior author and director, said. at UM Nursing School. “The rise in prescription stimulant abuse after high school, especially among athletes, warrants continued scrutiny in young adulthood.”

Veliz said his next series of studies will focus on the relationship between sports participation and stimulant misuse in adolescents being treated for ADHD.

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