Teenage athletes less likely to abuse opioids: Study

Teenage athletes less likely to abuse opioids: Study

Previous researches have indicated that opioid abuse is related to pain management as in the process of treating pain, patients gradually get addicted to the painkillers. But a recent research debunked this theory and stated that teenagers who take to sports and exercise have lesser probability of using opioids without a doctor’s prescription.

The study, titled “Nonmedical Prescription Opioid and Heroin Use Among Adolescents Who Engage in Sports and Exercise,” aimed to find if teenage athletes were at a greater risk of abusing painkillers, including heroin. The purpose of study, which got published online in the journal Pediatrics in July 2016, was to investigate the extent of pervasiveness and the method of introduction and continuation of nonmedical prescription opioid use (NPOU) and heroin among teenagers engaged in sports and exercise.

Researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed details obtained from 18 cross-sectional studies of over 191,000 students studying in eighth and 10th grades and were a part of the Monitoring the Future survey from 1997 to 2014. The participants had to answer questions regarding their engagement in various sports and exercise, use of NPOUs and heroin during their lives, age at which they had first used NPOU or heroin.

The scientists found that more than half of the respondents had reported of being engaged in some sports activity and exercise almost each day during the previous year. While 40 percent of the respondents participated in sports on a weekly basis, an estimated 8 percent said they did not participate in any form of exercise or sports activity.

Daily physical activities may prevent opioid abuse

Assessment of the data revealed a declining trend in NPOU and heroin use among teenage athletes from 1997 to 2014. Among respondents engaged in sports or exercise on a daily basis, NPOU fell from 9 percent in 1997 to less than 5 percent in 2014. During the same period, heroin use showed a decline from nearly 2 percent to less than 1 percent.

Investigation of details using logistic regression method revealed that teenagers involved in sports and related physical activities were less likely to abuse nonmedical prescription opioids and heroin, when compared to those belonging to the same age group, but had not been engaged in any physical activity during the previous year.

Stressing on the findings, Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) said, “A key risk (for teenage athletes) is a desire to please and for acceptance. But this study shows overall rates (of use) are declining.” Further analysis of the data also pinpointed that adolescents who had participated in sports just once a week had lower chances of abusing any kind of painkiller or heroin.

Emphasizing on the unexpected nature of findings, one of the co-authors of the study Philip Veliz from the University’s Institute for Social Research said, “Daily participation in sports and exercise may actually serve as a protective factor with respect to painkiller and heroin abuse.”

Positive influence of sports can prevent addiction in teens

The observations made during the study clash with the findings of previous researches that indicate prescription of opioids to teenagers gave way to heroin addiction in some of them. This is the first of its kind study that deals with probability of heroin use among adolescents as a consequence of their dependence on opioids, however, it does not deal with teenagers playing sports like baseball, wrestling or football that cause in grievous injuries. The findings also pointed to the positive influence of sports that prevent addiction in teenagers.

Addiction to anything is difficult to get rid of. Dependence on opioids has already claimed millions of American lives, mostly because of lack of timely treatment. Also unavailability of rehabilitation centers in the vicinity contributed to the rising opioid epidemic.

If you or your loved one is hooked on opioids and is looking for help, you may get in touch with the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information on various prescription drug rehabs in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online for expert advice on available opioid addiction treatment centers in California.