Drug Abuse and Addiction in Sports

There are many types of drugs that one may become addicted to including illegal drugs (marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and narcotics), prescription drugs (hydrocodone, codeine, and alprazolam), and other chemicals such as alcohol or nicotine.

Two types of addiction exist: physical and emotional. Physical addiction usually occurs after prolonged use of a drug. However, some drugs may only take a couple uses before addiction can occur. Physical addiction is marked by withdrawal symptoms, in which the person experiences negative symptoms such as sweat, anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, or cravings in the absence of using the drug. Emotional dependence is the psychological desire for the "high" that the drugs produce when taken.


  • Inattentiveness.

  • Negligence.

  • Forgetfulness.

  • Insomnia.

  • Mood swings.


  • Family history of addiction.

  • Personal history of addictive personality.

Studies have shown that risktakers, which many athletes are, have a higher risk of addiction.


The only adequate prevention of drug abuse is abstinence from drugs.


The first step in quitting substance abuse is recognizing the problem and realizing that one has the power to change. Quitting requires a plan and support from others. It is often necessary to seek medical assistance. Caregivers are available to offer counseling, and for certain cases, medicine to diminish the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Many organizations exist such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or the National Council on Alcoholism that offer support for individuals who have chosen to quit their habits.