Teen athletes at risk for medication misuse

November 11, 2013 by Joan Macdonald
Teen athletes at risk for medication misuse

Teen athletes derive many positive benefits from participating in sports, but their increased risk of sports-related injuries may also heighten their risk for medication misuse and abuse, especially for boys, finds a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Nearly 7.5 million adolescents take part in at the level and 2 million high school athletic injuries occur each year.

"We should expect that adolescents who participate in competitive sports at the interscholastic level are at a greater risk to get injured and, subsequently, be more likely to be prescribed opioids to manage pain," said lead researcher Philip Veliz, Ph.D., of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The study, which followed 1,540 teens, showed that male athletes were more likely to use and misuse opioids medications on at least one occasion in the past year than non-athlete males. However, said Veliz, "one surprise was that female athletes were not more likely to be prescribed these medications or misuse them."

Male athletes may be more likely to be prescribed opioid medication because they are more likely to play sports such as wrestling and football, which have the highest rate of severe injury among high school sports. But their misuse and abuse of the medications may also have something to do with the role that sports play in the lives of young men, say the researchers.

"Adolescent males depend on sports for social status, the maintenance of relationships with male peers and family members," said Veliz. "In other words, sports are a powerful site to be recognized as a man, and male adolescents will sacrifice their bodies through athletic performances to prove their masculinity. Consequently, opioid use and misuse among males could be the byproduct of a play-through-pain culture."

There is still value to prescribing , says Veliz, as they are helpful in managing pain on a short-term basis. Prescribing physicians can reduce the odds of misuse by discussing the management of medications with both adolescents and their parents.

"It's important to discuss abuse with patient and parent and prescribe narcotics only when necessary, in limited amounts and for a limited duration," said Daniel Green, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery. He suggests that legislation can help.

"Legislation in New York now requires doctors to review a patient's narcotic history on a pharmacy database prior to prescribing narcotics," said Dr. Green. "Physicians should only provide narcotics for a limited amount of time and use non-opioid alternatives whenever possible."

Parental involvement can decrease the likelihood of misuse or abuse. "Most have unsupervised access to these medications giving them the opportunity to misuse these drugs," said Veliz.

Explore further: Sports specialization, hours spent in organized sports may predict young athlete injury

More information: P. Veliz, Q. Epstein-Ngo, E. Meier, P. Ross-Durow, C. Boyd, S. McCabe, Painfully Obvious: A Longitudinal Study of Medical Use and Misuse of Opioid Medication Among Adolescent Sports Participants, Journal of Adolescent Health (2013) 1-8

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Big Data can save lives, says leading cancer expert

May 16, 2016

The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.

New soap to ward off malaria carrying mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

(Medical Xpress)—Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the ...

Smartphones uncover how the world sleeps

May 6, 2016

A pioneering study of worldwide sleep patterns combines math modeling, mobile apps and big data to parse the roles society and biology each play in setting sleep schedules.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.