BY HANNAH EUBANKS
Drugs can have lasting effects on the brain and body. Using drugs often compromises judgment and physical abilities, and make a person unable to perform in a variety of contexts. Sports and injuries go hand and hand, but what sports do not account for are or tolerate are drugs and substance abuse. Athletes are held to a standard they are expected to follow and live up to. That stress put on many student athletes can lead to them turning to drugs, which open the doors to many negative effects. Drug abuse occurs in all sports and at most levels of competition. Athletic life may lead to drug abuse for a number of reasons, including for performance enhancement, to self-treat otherwise untreated mental illness and to deal with stressors, such as pressure to perform, injuries, physical pain and retirement from sport.
One central argument about the use of sports enhancement drugs is the idea that they are extremely detrimental to athletes’ health. Anabolic steroids are one of the most common sports enhancements drugs and have often been debated due to the health related risks associated with them.
Sports were designed to be a fun and competitive way to gain exercise. They were not designed to include drug use. Communicate the serious effect of drugs on the game by asking your players to guess how their foul shots, field goals or home runs would be affected by drugs. To put it simply, they won’t happen.
Scientific studies show that drugs impair coordination and abilities. For example, some impacts on a variety of sports. A basketball player using drugs is more likely to miss a game-winning free throw and a football receiver using marijuana is less likely to outrun a defender. Speed, lung capacity, muscle strength and stamina can all drop with marijuana use. If a player’s performance is weak because of drug use, the player will have to live knowing that he or she has disappointed the team, the coach and others – all for a few minutes of a false high.
The preservation of sport is necessary to keep the nobility and chivalry which have been distinguished in the past, so it may continue to play the same part in the education of people of today as it did in ancient Greece. An athlete nowadays is faced with meeting expectations of the coach, teammates, family and friends. Coaches are also faced with similar pressure. Doctors also face a dilemma when they prescribe drugs to athletes.
Drugs negatively affect not only a team’s performance, but its sense of team spirit and cohesiveness as well. In particular, drug use can cause effects on the morale of the team, lack of togetherness, concentration, commitment, energy and trust.
When you are very active, your body adapts to provide you with the support you need, such as increasing the rate your heart pumps blood and supplying oxygen to your muscles. Your brain works to maintain body temperature, to coordinate your movement and make sure you are alert. Depressant drugs such as cannabis, alcohol and opiates slow down your breathing.
Cannabis reduces your lung capacity, so it’s harder to get the oxygen your muscles need during sport. Opiates, such heroin and codeine, slow down your breathing and narrow your airways. This makes it harder to breathe and reduces your breathing at a time when your body needs extra oxygen.
Stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy and speed increase your heart rate and put undue stress on your heart. Cocaine can cause heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythm. When you use speed, the lack of blood to your heart can cause severe chest pain.
Depressants such as alcohol slow down your heart rate, meaning less oxygen-rich blood reaches your muscles. The last thing you want during sport is to disrupt your coordination and relax your muscles.
Depressants such as cannabis reduce your motor activity so it’s hard to co-ordinate your movements during sport. Alcohol is high in calories, so you may start piling on the weight. Stimulants increase your movements so you are more likely to injure yourself during sport. Cocaine at higher doses can act as an anaesthetic so you can’t feel pain and may play on after an injury, causing even more damage.
Stimulants, such as cocaine and speed, can keep you awake so you don’t get the rest you need and this can affect your performance. They also decrease your appetite when you should be replacing calories after using so much energy. Side effects also include confusion, delirium and paranoia. At higher doses stimulants can cause you to become irritable and aggressive, they can also cause blood vessels in the brain to rupture leading to convulsions.
Sports maintain a strict policy for drugs for the reasons of the dangerous effects amongst the players and sports community itself. What these athletes need to understand is that there are consequences and negative repercussions for their actions, not only personally but for the entire sporting world.
Sports in general will lose interest if all the athletes are simply doping in order to perform well. The biggest issue in regards to steroid use in sports is the effect it has on youth. The children of America are constantly witnessing their sports idols undergo a scandal and are influenced greatly by the player’s steroid usage. The most dangerous health related side effect is psychological damage. Steroids have been known to result in increased aggression and also mental illness.
Drugs may be performance enhancing or medically prescribed and even so called “safe,” but have no place in sports.