Drugs and Athletes
Drugs have been a problem in our society for years. They have been used and abused by many groups, including amateur and professional athletes. It is quite common to hear about or read about athletes and drug use. Although drugs have a lengthy history of use by athletes, they are now more prevalent than ever. Nowadays there is more ways to hide drug abuse therefore it is dramatically rising. Drug use in sports is cheating, its wrong and most importantly, its illegal.
Steroids are man-made derivatives of testosterone, the male hormone. For performance enhancement, anabolic steroids are today's athletes drugs of choice. Steroids are a family of synthetic compounds put together. Anabolic refers to the ability of steroids to build up muscle tissue and stimulate growth. Testosterone came into sports when Russian weight lifters discovered them in the 1940's and 1950's.
Steroids do have some medical value.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of selected steroids for treating specific types of anemia, some breast cancers and osteoporosis. Steroids are used today by young people that hate their skinny bodies. Most of all, steroids are used by athletes to build muscle mass. They also help muscles to recuperate more quickly from fatigue or injury. These enable users to train more often and for longer periods of time at a high intensity. Athletes often take the drugs in dosages 10 to 100 times greater than what would be prescribed for medical purposes. Furthermore, athletes generally take more than one type of steroid at a time, a practice known as "stacking." Steroids may be taken by injection or by pill (orally)..
The list of professional and amateur athletes who have become involved with cocaine is becoming endless. It is estimated that 40 percent of NFL players regularly use cocaine. Cocaine is more closely identified with baseball. Cocaine use among baseball players has increased in recent years, and the drug's debilitating effects have destroyed individual performances, shortened careers, and influenced the outcome of games and pennant races. Tim Raines is a 25 year-old outfielder for the Montreal Expos. Raines told reporters that using cocaine hurt his performance. "I struck out a lot more; my vision was lessened. A lot of times I'd go up to the plate and the ball was at my head. The umpire would call it a strike and I'd start arguing. When you're on drugs, you don't feel you're doing anything wrong." Raines began using cocaine during the game. He would keep the little gram bottle in his pocket and if he was stealing a base he would slide head first, making sure not to break the bottle ( Meer 24).
Despite all the tragic physical effects steroids have on the body, athletes continue to use it. One of the most alarming is the threat of AIDS, which can be transmitted if needles are shared. Some effects, such as rapid weight gain, are easy to see. Some take place internally and some are irreversible. Males who take large doses of anabolic steroids typically experience changes in sexual characteristics. Some possible side effects are shrinking of testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, balding, difficulty in urinating, development of breasts, and enlarged prostate. Females may experience masculinization as well as other problems. They experience growth of facial hair, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, and breast reduction. Although there are many different effects on the male and female, both may suffer from acne, jaundice, trembling, swelling of feet or ankles, and bad breath.
There are also psychological effects caused by steroids. Many athletes report "feeling good" about themselves. The user will suffer wide mood swings ranging from violent periods, even homicidal, episodes known as "roid rages" to bouts of depression. They also suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility (Lend 24).
The most famous suspension for steroid use was, a Canadian sprinter, Ben Johnson. During the 1988 Olympics, Ben won the 100 meter dash in a world-record 9.79 seconds. He then had his title revoked when he tested positive after the race.
The main weapon that organized sport associations possess to protect the health of those who participated in sports, as well as to ensure that competitions are fair and natural, is drug testing. Rules and methods of testing vary from organization to organization, but the means for discovering whether an athlete has used a prohibited substance are more discerning than ever. Testing is routine in international and Olympic competitions.
In 1982 the NFL Players' Association and team owner adopted a procedure calling for all players to undergo a mandatory drug test before the season starts, as part of the normal preseason physical. If a NFL player tests positive for a banned substance or if the team doctor has reasonable cause to believe any player is using drugs, tests may be ordered during the season. If a player is found to using a banned substance, he is required to undergo drug counseling. Since then, the testing procedure has changed in some ways. Now, each player must take at least three urine tests per season- one at the beginning of the season and two other at unscheduled times.
In 1986, on opening day of baseball season it was announced that players would take four drug tests each year for cocaine, marijuana, and the narcotics heroin and morphine. Some athletes feel that drug testing is violating their Civil Rights. Although, testing does intrude on a person's right to privacy, guaranteed to all Americans, if an athlete wants to participate they have to be tested( Meer 104).
The best treatment for drug abuse is prevention. The process for treating an addict is usually divided into two stages. The first is "detox." During this period of a few days ( that can sometimes stretch to a few weeks), drug users stop taking the drug or drugs which they have become accustomed and are helped through any overdose complication or withdrawal symptoms they may suffer.
The second phase of treatment usually involves psychotherapy. Some therapy takes place in a psychiatrist's office. The therapists help users understand the nature of their problem and how it has come to run their lives. Therapists are responsible for helping addicts plan their own recovery strategy, to set up specific goals and expectations for themselves. This sometimes means dealing with other problems-such as abnormal sexuality, poor care for oneself, lack of assertiveness, uncontrolled impulses, and impotence-that sometimes accompany drug addiction. It is important to remember that treating other problems may not eliminate drug abuse and resolution of these problem is not essential for a drug-free state. Eventually, the therapist and user will have to deal with relapse.
Thus, there is a drug problem among professional athletes today. Although, it has existed for many years due to a variety of circumstances efforts are being made to eradicate its use by making people aware of the harmful effects that drugs can have. Many athletes need to learn to say "no,"