Kyle’s knee might’ve recovered from a tackle injury, but his life sure hadn’t. When that defensive lineman brought him down, the pain was beyond intense. The doctor prescribed Vicodin to help Kyle get through those first few days. Months later, his knee was like new, but he hadn’t stopped taking the Vicodin. In fact, he told the doctor his knee still bothered him long after it had healed, just to get refills.
Kyle had never used drugs before. As captain of the football team, he was a model athlete and student. It’s just that the Vicodin made him feel so good! He was under a lot of pressure to do well - on and off the field - and those little pills took a lot of the stress away.
Kyle found himself craving them more and more. He was on the honor roll...at least, he used to be. His grades seemed to be slipping lately. It was harder to focus on homework these days. In fact, nothing seemed as important as the next Vicodin escape.
When Amy fell, her back twisted and crunched in a way no cheerleader’s ever should. After weeks of physical therapy, she was deciding whether or not to get back on the field with the other girls. The OxyContin her doctor prescribed worked for the pain. Amy thought, if one relieved her discomfort, two would surely work better....right?
The “high” was amazing, she started doubling up doses more often. Even after her pain was gone, she asked the doctor for refills. When she couldn’t get any more from her doctor, she started asking friends if they had pills to spare. Before long, she found herself behind the bleachers every few days, buying bags of unmarked pills that her classmate swore were Oxys. She hoped her parents wouldn’t start asking where all her college money was going.
Sadly, Kyle and Amy aren’t alone. Researchers found that teen athletes are more likely to use drugs than their peers. Football players, in particular, are the most common users. And what are these athletes using, you ask? More and more are abusing prescription drugs. On top of the pressures teen athletes are already under, they’re also more likely to come into contact with prescription painkillers.
Putting potent opiates in the hands of teenagers after a sports injury can be disastrous. So many of them are in search of an escape or some kind of excitement, which makes them particularly susceptible to the temptations of abuse. With still-developing brains, they’re also at high risk for long-term side effects.
What can you do to protect your sporty teen if he or she suffers an injury? If your teenager has to take painkillers, take the initiative to hold on to the bottle - this ensures you're in control and removes the temptation of "if one is good, then two has to be better" thinking. When it's time for their medicine, give out one pill at a time - exactly as directed. You'll thank yourself later...and so will your teen.
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