Painkiller Addiction in Student Athlete

The Painkiller High School Problem: How Injuries Aren’t the Only Risk in Athletics

High school is one of the most important times in our lives. It is a time of learning, growth, and opportunity, and shapes us for the rest of our lives. There are few things shape us as much as school sports, which teach high school students to work in teams and build relationships.

While the benefits of playing high school sports are many, there are also risks involved. The main risk is being injured, which may lead to an even more deadly risk: addiction to painkillers. In this article, we’ll walk you through what painkillers are, why high school athletes chase the painkiller high, and how young athletes can avoid addiction.

Painkillers: What Are They?

Painkillers are a class of prescription medication called opiates. Opiates come from the opium plant and work by mimicking the pain-reducing chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and pain and create a feeling of well-being.

Opiates act like endorphins because connect to the same places in your brain and create a sense of euphoria, energy, or well-being. Opiates are powerful because they cause a strong intoxicating effect and are addictive.

Common painkiller drugs include morphine, codeine, and Oxycontin. These drugs are for patients who have suffered an injury and are suffering from intense pain.

The Painkiller High: Dangers for Student-Athletes

So why are painkillers so dangerous for high school athletes? The first reason that painkillers are so dangerous for student-athletes is the potency of these drugs. Painkillers are very easy to overdose on based on their high potency.

Over 68% of overdoses in the United States are from painkillers and with over 130 Americans dying from opiate overdoses per day, the threat is real.

Student-athletes are more likely to use painkillers than others. High school athletes are already more likely to use illegal drugs than students who don’t play sports, which may be due to the stress of performing.

But high school athletes are even more likely to sustain an injury at some point in their sports career. These injuries can be serious, like a broken leg or torn ligament, and need more time to heal and pain management techniques.

Student-athletes are often given a prescription for these painkillers when they suffer an injury. While the painkillers reduce pain in the short term, some students start using the pills to get high or get addicted while managing their pain.

Consequences of Painkiller Abuse

The first and most obvious consequence of abusing painkillers is an overdose. Painkiller overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Drug users who don’t die from an opiate overdose may suffer from brain damage or organ damage due to lack of oxygen, which may last for a lifetime.

Painkiller abuse can also affect the digestive system of users. Painkillers make the bowels slow down, which leads to constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

The most dangerous consequences of painkiller abuse are an increase in use and using more dangerous drugs. Because painkillers are so addictive and powerful, they lead to addiction and an increased tolerance for the drug. This is dangerous because it causes the user to take more pills to get the same high, which leads to overdoses, serious financial issues, and crime.

Heroin Abuse

When addicts either can’t afford more painkillers or their prescription runs out, they turn to a cheaper drug that is easier to get: heroin. Heroin is an illegal opiate that is usually sold as a powder or resin, which is then smoked, snorted, or injected into the body. It is cheap, easy to get, and very strong,

Heroin is dangerous because the potency isn’t consistent and different things are added to it to make it stronger. Fentanyl is one of the strongest prescription painkillers on the planet and is added to heroin to increase the potency. This has lead to a sharp increase in overdose deaths from opiates.

Avoiding Painkiller Addiction in Student-Athletes

There’s not much you can do to prevent student-athletes from getting injured. But there are many steps you can take to make sure that young athletes don’t become addicted to painkillers.

The first step you can take is to make sure that your student-athlete isn’t prescribed painkillers in the first place. Painkillers help manage pain but there are other ways to reduce pain.


Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and aspirin reduce inflammation and pain. They are hard to overdose on, aren’t addictive, and are easy to find.


R.I.C.E stands for the four steps of recovery: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Resting the injured body part, icing the injury, compressing the injury with wraps, and elevating the injury above your heart reduces pain and increases recovery.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help reduce the pain from longterm or recurring injuries. It also prevents injuries in the future by strengthening joints and the muscles surrounding them.


Making sure to supervise your young athlete’s painkiller prescription is also important. If your student-athlete has a painkiller prescription, make sure that they take the right amount and don’t have access to the pills.

You can also make sure that the prescription is appropriate for their injury. If the pain won’t last more than a couple of days, then that is how long the prescription should last for. If the pain takes longer to go away, make sure that the doctor has a plan to reduce the use of painkillers over the course of recovery.

Protect Student-Athletes from Addiction

Now that you know a little more about the use of painkillers in high school sports, you can educate student-athletes about why a painkiller high is so dangerous. The only way to stop addiction is by educating people, and that starts with spreading the word.

If you have any questions about opiate addiction, treatment, and recovery, please visit our blog.


The Different Levels of Care for Addiction Treatment

Drug Rehab: The Different Levels of Care for Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love is headed to rehab, you likely have a lot of questions. Drug addiction can cause an immense amount of turmoil in a family or relationship. We’ll address that later. For now, it’s important to focus on the present.

If you or the person you care about is willing to go, you’ve already conquered the all-important first step. Drug rehabs offer a variety of treatment options and levels of care. Read on as we outline them all for you, so you know what to expect in the days and months ahead.

With hard work, willingness, and the desire to stay clean you or the person you love can stay away from their addictive substance. It’s only then that the addict can begin to re-engage with their own life and all things that use to matter most.

Levels of Care for the Physically Dependent: The Medical Detox

If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs, there is a high likelihood that they will require medical supervision as they detox. Some drugs form more than a habit. Physical withdrawal symptoms are evidence of the body’s physical dependence on the substance.

Understanding this can help friends and loved ones understand how difficult it’s been for the addict. It’s more than a preference to use drugs. Addicted bodies have formed a harmful substance dependence. One that the addict must feed to survive.

Fortunately, with medical supervision, physical dependence can be broken. This is likely to be an uncomfortable time for the addict as they experience the crippling symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can include shaking, sleep disruption, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

For regular opiate users, these withdrawal symptoms usually being within 12 hours. If the opiate user is on an opiate blocker like suboxone or methadone, this can vary. Symptoms are more delayed for those taking opiate blockers.

Some doctors will prescribe medication while in medical detox to help lessen extreme symptoms. These may include medications like clonidine. Medications such as NSAIDs may be prescribed to lessen inflammation. Additionally, hydroxyzine medications are also given to lessen the symptoms of nausea.

The worst withdrawal symptoms are seen in alcoholics and those withdrawing from tranquillizers. It is important for these addicts to seek medical supervision for their detox. This is because they are likely to experience hallucinations, seizures, or heart attacks.

Detoxing can be the most difficult stage of recovery for the addict. This is also the time that they are likely to experience their strongest cravings for their substance of choice. However, with proper medical supervision and support, it is possible to rid the body of toxic substance.

Additionally, this can be an important stage of recovery. Why? Because if given the addict the experience to realize how much of a grasp their substance holds on their lives and bodies.

Inpatient Residential Rehabilitation

If your friend or loved one isn’t physically dependent on their addiction, they will likely skip the medical detox step. They can then begin their recovery at an in-patient rehabilitation center.

Depending on the severity of their addiction and their own insurance limits, an addict will typically spend 30, 60, or 90 days in a residential in-patient rehab. Rehab is the perfect opportunity to get the space necessary from familiar people, places, and situations that they normally associate with their addiction.

By changing their “playmates” and “play places,” they can begin to imagine a new life for themselves in this safe space. It is important that friends and loved ones set boundaries and expectations during this time.

Many addicts will be tempted to leave rehab before completing the duration of the stay suggested. If they choose to do so, they shouldn’t be welcomed home with open arms.

You’ll need to create boundaries that encourage the addict to persevere through the moments when their cravings are strongest. Strong cravings can cause addicts to manipulate the facts and create reasons to leave their new drug-free environment.

Allowing the addict to leave rehab before the end of their suggested stay can be considered “enabling” the addict. Promises are only one of the things frequently broken by addicts and creating a reason to leave rehab is a common manipulation.

Loved ones of can support the addict’s attempts to get and stay clean by staying true to their initial expectations and not conceding. Completing the duration of their stay and creating an after-care plan are two components crucial to staying clean.

Paid aftercare groups and free NA meetings are two great ways to stay accountable to recovery after completing a residential inpatient stay.

Sober Living Communities

After completing a residential stay, rehab counselors may suggest transitioning the addict into a sober living facility. This can be a great step for addicts as they return to living life on life’s terms.

Sober livings are typically run similar to an apartment complex. The addict will share a room or live alone in the complex while remaining accountable to stay clean and sober.

Each sober living has a unique set of requirements and rules for tenants. These requirements typically include regular drug testing, curfew, cleaning duties, and employment.

While sober living may not give the addict absolute freedom, it’s a good way to return to ‘normal life’ while remaining accountable.

It can also be a great opportunity for recovering addicts to make new friends who have similar goals and experiences. Creating bonds within the recovery community is important, as those who immediately return to their previous lifestyle are far more likely to fall back into their previous routine and relapse.

The friends and loved ones of addicts may be disappointed initially. It is unlikely that their partners will able to take part in all the activities they once shared.

This is because Sober Living often curtails late night outings and overnight stays. This is only temporary. With love and compromise, new routines can be formed.

Living clean presents many opportunities for new adventures.

“But I Can’t…” Other Options

If your insurance won’t cover in-patient treatment, there are other options available. Intensive outpatient programs, also known as IOP, are programs typically provided by clinics and hospitals at a cost lower than traditional rehab.

These programs meet daily and provide three-to-four hours of daily treatment and can be more workable for people who are the primary caretaker of a child or unable to pay for inpatient residential treatment.

These programs can work just as well if the addict is committed to recovery. However, the likelihood of temptation is far greater when the addict begins the recovery process without the safety of a new environment.

12-step recovery groups are the single most important resource for the recovering addict. These groups convene at various times throughout the day and in thousands of locations.

You may be stunned when you realize just how many recovery meetings are happening in your area. If you live in a metropolitan area, it’s likely that you can even find a meeting within walking distance.

While the recovering addict may choose to pick a Narcotics Anonymous group as his or her ‘homegroup’, it is important to remember that there is no big difference between an AA, NA, CA, or MA meeting.

The unity of experience and universal unmanageability of addiction give each meeting the ability to provide support to the addict. Do not be deterred from attending an AA meeting (the most commonly held meeting) because you don’t believe drug addicts are welcome.

While some meetings may require you to use the word “alcohol” when sharing, most groups aren’t hung up on the details. A desire to remain clean and sober is the only requirement for attending.

Because staying clean also requires you to also abstain from alcohol, you’ll soon realize the similarity of experience. Just as you’ll also soon find that you’ll be hard pressed to find an alcoholic who hasn’t used or abused drugs before recovery.

While your story may not be exactly the same as those shared in AA, look for the similarities and not the differences. You’ll be sure to identify with the unmanageable nature of alcoholism and see the parallels it shares with your own addiction.

For the Friends and Family of Alcoholics

While your friend or loved one is beginning their recovery journey, it’s important to find levels of care for yourself, as well.

Addiction can cause havoc within families and loving relationships. It is important to have an outlet for the resentment, anger, and hurt you have experienced. Fortunately, regular meetings of Al-Anon are likely all around you.

Al-anon meetings are comprised of the friends and family of the alcoholic or addict and provide support and recovery to those who have shouldered the burden of caring for an addict.

These groups can help you set the boundaries you’ll need moving forward as the addict returns from rehab and you transition back into life together.

Burning Desire: More Obstacles to Recovery

Co-occurring disorders are not uncommon in those who develop alcohol or drug dependence. This often because addicts began their addiction by been self-medicating to control symptoms of another disorder.

These disorders can include but are not limited to bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, grief or anxiety. Inpatient rehabs typically have professionals on staff that can detect, treat, and provide supportive medication management services. If the addict does not choose to go to an inpatient facility, these disorders may go overlooked.

Finding a therapist to help the addict handle the stresses involved with a new way of life can be wise. These sessions will not take the place of 12-step recovery. They can be helpful when unpacking difficult memories, new responsibilities, and the detection of co-occurring disorders.

Like traditional treatment options, these therapists are available via self-pay or through insurance. If financial concerns common in early sobriety are a concern, consider looking for a low or no-cost facility.

These low-cost facilities often house therapists who have recently graduated. They are there to be of service while fulfilling requirements to start their own practice. They may not have the same experience as someone who has spent 30 years specializing in the treatment of addiction.

It’s important to remember, though that these therapists do not come without their own list of advantages. With a sincere interest in their patient’s care and the most recent science fresh in their minds, these therapists can help support the recovery of the newly clean and sober addict.

Moving Forward

As the addict transitions back into life clean, there are bound to be obstacles. Feelings that have been muted by drugs are likely to bubble to the surface and stressors and temptation abound.

Staying committed to recovery means using all the resources available to you. Lean on a reliable support system and the levels of care need to stay clean.

Over time these needs will stabilize. 12 step groups will become a place for fellowship and service and not a daily necessity for sobriety.

Addicts who choose to get clean and pursue a bigger life beyond addiction haven’t chosen an easy road. No one can convince an addict to get clean and stay clean (though many an Al-Anon has tried over the years).

Living clean and sober is a decision the addict must make for themselves. With the proper levels of care and the willingness needed, recovery is possible.

For more information on substance abuse treatment, visit our blog for more. We’re here to help and you’re not alone.

how to tell if someone is on drugs

How Can I Tell That Someone I Know Is on Drugs?

Does something seem off with your spouse lately? Or has your son or daughter been acting irrationally out of nowhere and making poor decisions more and more often?

They could just be going through a rough patch in their lives and dealing with more stress than usual. But there is also a chance that your loved one could be using drugs and battling addiction at this time.

If you’ve been wondering how to tell if someone is on drugs, there are a ton of different signs and symptoms that you can look out for. There are obvious signs that you might notice as well as more subtle signs that could tip you off.

Here are 12 signs that’ll let you know your loved one might be using drugs right now.

Extreme Changes in Physical Appearance

If you’ve noticed that your loved one is wearing the same clothes almost every day, showering less and less often, and making almost no attempt to look their best on a regular basis, this should be an obvious cause for concern.

When a person is battling drug addiction, they’ll usually start to let their physical appearance go over time. They’ll stop doing things like shaving and even brushing their teeth.

You’ll also typically see that something isn’t right just by looking at their face. It’s not uncommon for drug users to have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and bags under their eyes. They also tend to lose a lot of weight due to a change in their diet (more on that later!), which can make them appear gaunt and even frail in some cases.

If you notice that your loved one’s physical appearance has changed dramatically in recent weeks, it might not be a bad idea to bring it up to them and ask if there is something wrong or some way you can help them.

Frequently Slurred Speech

Do you have a hard time understanding what your loved one is saying to you when they speak?

While there are some drugs that will speed people up and make them talk a lot faster than normal, many of them will slow people way down and cause them to slur their speech when they’re talking. You’ll be able to tell when these people are using drugs because of their speech patterns and the way they walk.

In addition to affecting their speech, drugs can also wreak havoc on a person’s coordination. If someone is having a tough time standing up or even sitting up in a chair, that is another clear sign that they might be using drugs.

Try talking to them about their speech and coordination issues when they’re not under the influence of drugs. It will, at the very least, let them know that you’ve noticed a change in the way they’re behaving.

Abrupt Mood Swings

Drugs can take a toll on more than just a person’s body. They can also take a big toll on their mind and cause them to experience mood swings at the drop of a hat.

One minute, your loved one might be happy and full of life and telling you about all of the things they’re excited about. And the next, they might be depressed, irritable, and feeling completely down on the way their life is playing out.

It can be almost impossible to predict what version of a person you’re going to get when they’re using drugs regularly. Before long, you might start steering clear of them altogether to avoid having to deal with the mood swings they throw at you.

Drastic Shifts in Sleeping and Eating Patterns

Is your loved one up almost all night long and then sleeping throughout the course of the day?

There are a number of sleep disorders that could be causing them to struggle to fall asleep at night. But there are also many drugs that can make it impossible for a person to keep up any sort of normal sleep schedule. They simply won’t be able to sleep seven or eight hours at night and get up like a normal person.

Drugs can also make it tough for a person to stick to a regular eating pattern. Rather than eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a person might only eat one meal a day or might not eat at all.

This is one of the reasons why those who use drugs will often lose a lot of weight at some point. They’re not eating enough, and when they do eat, they’re usually eating fast food or other food that doesn’t have enough nutrients in it.

Overall Lack of Interest in Normal Activities

As a person slides deeper and deeper into the throes of drug addiction, they’ll have less and less time for the things that used to be important to them. They may even start to give up activities that used to bring them joy in favor of using drugs.

Rather than taking part in those activities, your loved one might be spending most of their time trying to score drugs, use drugs, and then score more drugs once their high wears off. It might not seem like it, but it can actually be a very time-consuming cycle that can consume a person’s life.

Inability to Keep Up With Basic Responsibilities

Everyone has basic responsibilities that they need to tend to throughout the course of a normal day. That might mean going to school for a few hours, showing up for work, or taking care of kids.

Most people have no problem tending to their responsibilities and will put them over just about everything else in life. But those battling drug addictions have a hard time doing that and will often side with drugs over their responsibilities.

A drug addict will often show up late to school or work if they bother to show up at all. They’ll also put forth next to no effort at school or work and appear completely disinterested in the tasks they’re asked to complete.

There are even some drug addicts who will neglect their own kids for the sake of scoring drugs. There are too many heartbreaking stories to count about young kids being put into harm’s way as a result of a parent’s drug addiction.

Dramatic Changes in Relationships

Have you noticed that your loved one is hanging out with a new crowd? Or have you noticed that they don’t seem to have an interest in hanging out with their old friends anymore?

People who use drugs will often experience dramatic changes with a lot of their relationships. They’ll start spending more time with others who use drugs and less time with those who don’t. They might even cut off ties with certain family members and friends in some instances.

One of the easiest ways to know how to tell if someone is on drugs might just be to look at who they’re hanging around on a day in and day out basis. A person’s inner circle can tell you a lot about where they’re at in their life.

Unexplained Financial Problems

Most people run into money troubles every now and then. So you shouldn’t jump to conclusions if a close family member or friend asks you to borrow money from them on a rare occasion.

But you should start to worry if you notice that a loved one appears to have financial problems almost all the time. A person who is using drugs will often mismanage their money and spend whatever they have feeding their drug habit.

Resist the urge to lend money to someone if you suspect they have a drug problem. Even if they say they’re going to use the money to pay a bill or take care of the rent, you could very well be enabling your loved one to continue to use drugs by providing them with the money to do it.

Mysterious Need for Privacy

Is your loved one spending more time by themselves than they have in the past?

Most drug users aren’t proud of what they’ve become. They don’t want to spend time around others because they fear either being judged or being ridiculed for using drugs.

There are also some drug users who can’t function well when they’re in social settings. Their drug use has made it nearly impossible for them to hold normal conversations with others.

For all of these reasons, those who use drugs will often become reclusive and keep to themselves. They’ll try their best to maintain their privacy and refuse to let others see them at all costs.

This will obviously make it harder for you to offer assistance to your loved one. But you shouldn’t let it stop you from trying to break down the walls that they’ve built up to let them know you’re there to get them help if they need it.

Sudden Bouts of Anxiety and Paranoia

Once drugs have a firm grasp on a person, they can start to take hold of their thoughts and cause them to develop psychological issues. From depression to anxiety, there are all kinds of mental disorders that can stem from frequent drug use.

These mental disorders can sometimes present themselves without any warning at a moment’s notice. Some drugs users are forced to deal with sudden bouts with everything from the aforementioned anxiety to paranoia. They might even start hallucinating due to the damage that has been done to their brains by drugs.

When a person reaches this point, it’ll probably be pretty easy for you to see that they need professional help for drug addiction. But it can also be pretty hard to connect with them and tell them they need to get themselves help.

You’re going to have to make a strong push to get your loved one on board with the idea of seeking assistance. You may need to hold an intervention or even speak with a rehab facility about what you can do to help.

Extra Defensive When Drugs are Discussed

A person with a drug problem usually doesn’t want to spend much time talking about it, especially if they’ve never talked about it before. Most people will deny that they have a problem in the first place and refuse to discuss it any further.

If you attempt to speak with a loved one about drugs and they shut you down immediately, that should raise a red flag in your mind. You shouldn’t necessarily push the issue too hard and risk having the person cut you out of their life completely. But you should find another approach to talking with your loved one about your concerns.

Total Loss of Control in Life

Has your loved one stopped caring about just about everything except using drugs?

This total loss of control can be scary for those who know someone battling addiction. It can make you feel frustrated, lost, and even hopeless. But you shouldn’t let it keep you down completely.

Studies have shown that about 10 percent of the population has overcome an addiction to either drugs or alcohol in the past. That should offer you some hope as you strive to get your loved one the help they need to become a part of that statistic.

Know How to Tell If Someone is On Drugs and Take Action

It’s not necessarily that hard to know how to tell if someone is on drugs when they’re battling a full-blown addiction. People who are addicted to drugs like crack cocaine, heroin, and painkillers will often be easy to spot.

But it can be slightly harder to see when someone is dabbling with drugs for the first time. You might have to look a lot harder to see what’s really going on so that you can stop a loved one from going too far down the wrong path.

Do you want to get help for someone in your life that you suspect might be using drugs? Contact us today to see how we can provide your loved one with the treatment they need.