Addiction Rehabilitation for Athletes

Athletes demand a lot of their bodies. Whether they are involved in sports professionally or recreationally, they push themselves through training and competition. While this level of physical performance can be good for the body, athletics can also put incredible strain on people physically and mentally. Athletes can experience physical injury and endure intense pressure to maintain peak performance.

It is not uncommon for athletes to engage in drug abuse, whether to cope with the pain caused from an injury or to enhance performance. While drug addiction can be a difficult cycle to break, there are treatment options for athletes.

Risk of Addiction in Athletes

Nearly 20% of people have used illicit drugs at least once. Of course, illicit drugs are not the only substances that come with the risk of addiction. Alcohol and prescription drugs can also play a role in addiction. Why are athletes at risk of substance abuse and addiction? Some reasons include:

  • Availability: Addictive substances may be readily accessible to athletes. For example, alcohol and binge drinking can be a part of the culture for college athletes. Athletes at all levels may also have ready access to performance-enhancing drugs through fellow athletes or authority figures, such as coaches.
  • Pressure: Athletes can face an enormous amount of pressure, both external and internal. For athletes who publicly compete, they may feel pressure from their teammates, coaches and fans to deliver on their performance. Internally, athletes of any level often feel the need to drive themselves to achieve their goals. If they aren't performing as well as they think they should, they might turn to performance-enhancing drugs or use other substances, like alcohol, to cope with feelings of failure.
  • Injury: Physical injury is common among athletes. Whether from overuse or an accident, athletes can break bones, tear muscles and tendons and experience head injuries. Chronic pain can lead to the abuse of prescription medication.

Prescription Painkillers for Sports Injuries

Some sports injuries can resolve quickly, with no lingering effects on performance and comfort level. Other injuries can result in chronic pain. Some athletes may be prescribed medication to manage that pain. If the pain persists, they may start to self-medicate or abuse painkillers. Common prescription painkillers for sports injuries include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): You can buy several NSAIDs, such as Advil, over the counter. But there are also strong versions of NSAIDs that are only available via prescription. Celebrex and Nalfon are examples of prescription NSAIDs used for back and neck pain.
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids, such as cortisone and prednisone, are prescribed to address inflammation. Athletes may receive an injection of corticosteroids to treat an injury.
  • Muscle relaxants: Benzodiazepines are a common type of muscle relaxant that can be prescribed to help ease pain and improve mobility in athletes. Benzodiazepines can be addictive if abused.
  • Opioids: Opioids are commonly misused painkillers. In 2019, more than 10 million people misused opioids. This class of drugs, including prescription medications such as Vicodin and Oxycodone, consists of powerful painkillers. Athletes may be prescribed an opioid to manage pain following an injury or surgery.

What Are the Risks of Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are used by athletes to gain a competitive edge. Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone are considered PEDs. Most of these drugs are banned in sports, regardless of the level of competition. In addition to the possibility of disqualification, PEDs come with other risks, including:

  • Physiological: PEDs affect a person's body in many different ways. Some of the common physiological consequences of using PEDs are acne, changes in breast and testicle size, changes in sex drive, infertility, joint pain, high blood pressure and liver damage. Depending on what drugs are used and for how long, effects may be permanent.
  • Psychological: PEDs can also affect your mental health. Psychological effects of these drugs may include changes in mood, depression, impaired judgment and suicidal thoughts.

Many athletes who use PEDs do not consider the negative side effects of these drugs, focusing instead on the potential gains in their performance.

Warning Signs and Symptoms for Drug Use in Athletes

If you are concerned that an athlete you care about is using, some of the signs may include:

  • Changes in appearance: PEDs can significantly impact a person's appearance. Men may develop breasts, while women begin to appear and sound more masculine. Some drugs can lead to dramatic weight gain or weight loss. Any change in appearance without explanation may indicate drug use.
  • Sudden changes in performance levels: Many athletes improve over time with hard work and training. Sudden leaps forward in performance, beyond what you might expect, could be an indication that an athlete is using PEDs. On the other hand, an unexplained decrease in performance could mean that an athlete is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or prescription painkillers.
  • Personality changes: Many addictive substances can impact a person's mood, behavior and personality. If an athlete is struggling with sudden outbursts and bouts of irritability, these issues could be related to substance abuse.
  • GI symptoms: Many PEDs and painkillers can affect the stomach. If an athlete is exhibiting regular signs of nausea and diarrhea, substance abuse can be a possible explanation.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety and substance abuse often go hand in hand. The drugs can make the user more anxious than normal. Additionally, the athlete who is using a substance may be anxious about keeping that behavior hidden from others.

Sometimes it can be hard to recognize the warning signs of addiction. It can be even harder to speak up if you do recognize the signs in a loved one or in yourself. If you suspect you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, do not ignore the symptoms. It's best to seek help as soon as possible.

Reach out to Us Today

Asking for help can be hard, particularly if you are used to pushing yourself in your athletic pursuits. However, recovery is possible if you take the first steps. At Transformations By The Gulf, we take a personalized approach to addiction treatment to give every client the individual care they need. Your experience is unique, and your road to recovery will be too. You don't have to go it alone, either — support is always available.

Our team partners with you to address your needs and give you varied treatment options. We are here to help you get back on your feet and move forward with your life. If you are ready to make a change in your life, reach out to us to get started.


Family Roles in Addiction

Substance abuse is a disease that can affect an entire family. When you’re living under the same roof with someone struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you’ll navigate an unpredictable world filled with many uncertainties. You might also have trouble knowing where to turn for help.

Unique family roles can pop up in the event of addiction, which may worsen the situation. To understand how this disease manifests itself, we’ll discuss the family dynamics of addiction below and provide addiction recovery information and resources for you and your loved ones.

Victim or Addict

Family dynamics are affected by at least one victim of addiction. People struggling with substance abuse live in a constant state of chaos, and drugs may become their primary way to cope with emotional issues. Victims display negative behaviors or symptoms that might include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Confusion
  • Irritability, anxiety or paranoia
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Shakes, tremors or slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Bloodshot eyes

The victim might display anger and avoidance behaviors as they find it harder to manage their mood swings. They’ll often show dependent behaviors such as manipulating or lying to supply and sustain their addiction.

Over time, the victim will become the focal point of the family while other members attempt to deal with their behavioral choices and life changes. The victim might isolate themselves or blame other family members for their problems, negatively affecting those around them.

The Scapegoat of the Family

The scapegoat of the family is often the one who gets blamed for the family issues caused by addiction. Most commonly the middle or second oldest child, the scapegoat exhibits deviant behavior and hostility to divert attention from the victim.

The scapegoat will often lash out and voice the family’s collective anger. They’re also more likely to participate in risky behaviors, so parents focus on their punishment rather than deal with the scary and unpredictable world of addiction.

The scapegoat also distracts family members from internal blame and resentment surrounding the victim’s addiction issues. When scapegoats get older, they’ll find it harder to manage their emotions and may display avoidance behaviors by running away or acting out in violence.

The Enabler

The enabler will deny that there was ever a problem in the first place. They’ll downplay the victims’ behavior or life choices to “protect” the rest of the family from the adverse effects of addiction. They’ll convince themselves that substance abuse isn’t a real issue and make light of the situation by excusing their loved one’s behavior and fueling the addiction.

The enabler has difficulty creating boundaries with the family member who suffers from addiction. They’ll let problems go unchecked rather than deal with them straight away. While they may not realize it, the enabler can assist in the self-destruction of the victim by:

  • Treating an adult victim like a child and making excuses for their behavior.
  • Giving them money to pay for necessities rather than allowing them to pay for their own.
  • Ignoring harmful behavior and not addressing how it’s affecting the family.
  • Helping the victim obtain their substance of choice.

This role is often filled by the victim's spouse or even a child of the family. They often believe they’re helping the family or victim when in reality, their reaction creates a more significant issue by making it difficult for everyone to heal.

The Hero of the Family

The hero of the family tends to be controlling and perfectionistic. They achieve many successes to give their family the illusion that all is well. Often seen as over-responsible and self-sufficient, they’ll also attempt to make decisions for the family behind closed doors.

The hero will feel like the leader of their siblings, though, over time, they'll find it challenging to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with this role. The hero might also attempt to overshadow the victim and be the center of attention, derailing recovery efforts.

The hero believes they are the only one who can solve the victim’s problem. They’ll often harbor ill will toward the victim as they attempt to establish themselves as the focal point of the family and solve family drama. The hero harms rather than helps the situation by making it more difficult for the family to work toward recovery.

The Mascot

Often the youngest sibling, the mascot is the comedian of the family. They’ll typically use humor to resolve family tension, which might come from a place of fragility and a desire for approval from those around them. Employing constant humor might also result in their inability to deal with confrontation or express their emotions.

Supplying comic relief helps the mascot shield themselves from the pain associated with negative family dynamics. Fear, sadness and feelings of vulnerability plague this person as they conceal their emotions by cracking jokes and making light of family arguments. While their humor may lighten the mood, the mascot distracts the family from solving deep problems.

Due to their deep-seated issues, mascots tend to self-medicate as a coping mechanism. This can continue into adulthood and perpetuate the addiction cycle.

The Lost Child

Typically the youngest or middle child, the lost child is uninvolved in family relationships. They’ve likely never received the same level of attention as their siblings, which makes them go virtually unnoticed when there’s an addict in the family.

When this child stays lost, they learn their needs don’t matter and hiding becomes a way of life. They’re shy, withdrawn and commonly depressed for most of their childhood as they use invisibility as their defense.

The lost child often grows up feeling inadequate. They’ll blame themselves for the lack of attention they received growing up and believe that something is inherently wrong with them. This makes it challenging for them to form intimate and lasting adult relationships, and they may self-harm or become involved in abusive relationships. Like the mascot, the lost child might also turn to self-medicating as a way to cope.

If You've Noticed These Dynamics Within Your Family, We Are Here To Help

As you’ve learned, addiction significantly affects the victim and those around them. If your family is struggling with the effects of addiction, we’re here to help.

Transformations By The Gulf is a wellness center that provides substance abuse and alcohol addiction recovery services. Our residential and outpatient programs emphasize compassion, honesty and self-accountability through the path to recovery.

We understand the complexity of addiction and design custom recovery plans for each individual to help them achieve a better quality of life. We also provide family therapy to navigate you through the challenges and unpredictability of an addictive household.

To learn more about our services, contact us today.


Alcohol and Drug Rehabs That Allow Cell Phones

Rehab centers are a place to go for recovery from alcohol and other drugs. Group therapy and meditation sessions combined with calming interactions make up the better part of the day. Some people may be unsure whether to enter these rehab centers because the experience is new to them, and their bodies must adjust to learning to live without chemical dependency. With so many changes all at once, entering rehab can have a bit of a learning curve.

For most people, their cell phones are the primary communication pipeline to the outside world while they're in rehab. During the first phase of treatment, however, most rehab centers won't allow cell phones. This guideline is set in place so clients can acclimate to a new environment without outside aggressors and influences making it more challenging. Below, learn more about the use of cell phones in rehab and why Transformations By The Gulf allows them.

Why We Allow Cell Phones During Treatment

Completely sheltering clients from contacting anyone outside the rehab center could hinder their recovery and stress out loved ones. Not allowing cell phones at all also creates a situation after discharge where patients can become overwhelmed. They'll be re-entering society's fast-paced lifestyle and having to manage overwhelming amounts of communication from people who were unable to talk to them for an extended period. All these things hitting them at once could trigger a relapse, which could put them right back where they started before they entered rehab.

Allowing cell phones encourages clients to embrace change while staying connected to the right kind of people. In the beginning, there needs to be some oversight of communications to ensure people who would be harmful toward recovery are not communicating with patients. That way, their experience with rehab and with being allowed to use their devices will be pleasant. Rules help establish proper and healthy usage of devices for communication and learning. Some of those rules can include:

    • Blackout period: Upon entry into the rehab center, there will be several days when you'll have no access to your devices to help with acclimation.
    • Prior assessments for usage: Before you enter the rehab center, you may be interviewed so the center's staff can learn about your phone usage needs, current daily routines and things you like to use your devices for. This assessment helps the rehab center establish individual usage parameters.
    • Specific usage times: Creating particular times throughout the day when clients can use their devices gives them something to look forward to and helps them relax from the days' recovery-related stresses.
    • Privacy laws and rules: Your rehab center will have strict policies it must follow for preserving client privacy and safeguarding other information about your medical history and recovery. These rules help keep your personal data safe and instill confidence that your devices will remain secure during your stay.

Benefits to Staying Connected While in Rehab

Another reason cell phones often need to be part of recovery is because society heavily relies on these devices to keep functioning. People are very connected to their devices, whether they're using a cell phone, laptop, tablet or all three. Letting patients keep their electronics helps them build trust with their counselors.

This element of trust also applies to their family life, with their relatives knowing their loved one can handle using their devices and being on the internet without contacting their drug dealer or finding ways to get alcohol. Making people give up those comforts that are not directly a part of their addiction could be just enough to make them not want to try rehab.

Allowing cell phones also lets patients periodically contact their employers to keep them updated and hopefully keep their jobs while in rehab. That way, patients can be reassured they'll have somewhere to work when they're released. Leaving rehab and not having a job waiting for you gives you too much free time and could be a potential danger.

When you get bored, your mind will wander, and you could start reminiscing about old "fun" times when you were high or drunk. For many people in recovery, their job is the most sacred aspect of their lives, and they identify themselves with it.

If you have any romantic partners, staying in touch with them poses a substantial beneficial factor, letting them have a role in your recovery. Your partner can encourage you to keep moving forward, congratulate you on your achievements and make you feel that much more remarkable that you're accomplishing these tasks and changing your lifestyle for the better.

If clients are not allowed to talk to their romantic partners, it could add to their stress and increase the strain on the whole recovery process, making it more probable that they will leave prematurely or not go through rehab at all.

Cons to Having Your Phone in Rehab

While there are plenty of positive reasons cell phones need to be allowed in rehab centers, there are some cons to allowing patients too much device usage or any usage at all. If patients stay in contact with the wrong people, this could pose a danger to them, and they may leave the program before finishing. Clients could also use their devices to contact their dealers or external people to procure drugs and alcohol to sneak into the rehab center or somewhere else on the facility grounds.

If a client makes contact with these negative people, it could trigger relapse and ruin the program before they can genuinely see all the benefits of rehab. Those potential dangers can be avoided with clear rules, security on the grounds and vigilant staff.

Reach Out to Transformations By The Gulf Today to Get Started

If you're ready to begin bettering your life or want to seek help for a loved one, reach out to Transformations By The Gulf. People who seek rehab from us often have fantastic experiences. Our clients have lots of personal time with their counselors and attend smaller group sessions for a more intimate setting. 

With many clinical services available to you, Transformations By The Gulf is ready to help you make lifestyle changes to better your future. Our services include but are not limited to boat therapy, group therapy, intensive outpatient programs and more. 

Change your life for the better by joining us today! Your loved ones can enjoy your next steps in life right alongside you and congratulate you on your successes. Start your journey to recovery and contact Transformations By The Gulf to fill out an admissions form.