College Athletics Substance Abuse

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Substance Abuse Re-Visited

Surely, we’re all familiar with the most recent story in the Michael Phelps saga:  alleged marijuana smoking followed by the South Carolina Sheriff’s release that charges may be filed against him. SPINW has previously discussed alcohol abuse among NFL professionals (see November 30 ’08), but what are the rates and implications of substance abuse among other levels of athletics?
Some sport psychology research indicates some troubling trends, particularly among college athletes. For example, research by the
College Student Journal demonstrated that college athletes drank earlier in life, drank more overall, binge drank more frequently, and encountered more alcohol-related problems than non-athletes. In regards to marijuana, 27.1% of college athletes reported smoking marijuana, as documented by Central Connecticut. Those that did use marijuana said they did so for social reasons, or to feel good.
Why may athletes demonstrate higher use rates than non-athletes? Some reasons may include:
-Stress. Athletes, especially at high school and collegiate levels, are under more stress today than ever before, juggling practice, games, recruiting, academics, and leisure. Easily available substances, such as alcohol and marijuana, may serve as a release.
-Social pressures. Many institutions, especially college campuses, may have an established culture of drinking partying, which can increase rates of substance use and abuse.

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