In America, we are currently experiencing a drug problem larger than we have ever seen in history. From 2010 to 2016, there was a recorded 493 percent increase in people diagnosed with opioid use disorders. Facing this crisis as a country has been increasingly difficult because of the stigma attached to getting help with drug addiction and the pain that Americans feel.
In 2011, about 100 million adults in the U.S. were diagnosed with chronic pain. These Americans were prescribed pills such as Percocet and OxyContin. These drugs fell into the hands of high school athletes. With 15-year-olds feeling the stress of school, contact sports and other outside factors, popping a pill to numb the pain becomes an easy escape.
Eighty percent of heroin addictions have reported having started with a prescription addiction. Seventeen thousand people die annually from painkiller overdose. One in six high school students took medicine from a prescription that was not written to them. Substance abuse among high school students is at an all-time high, and for these high impact sports such as football, wrestling, swimming and baseball, these substances are a way out of pain. With white male football players being at the highest risk, these kids may seem like athletes with a ferocious work ethic to never let their team down but are struggling with addiction.
Many of these students are not receiving these pills from drug dealers or on the black market, they are being handed them by their doctors. These drugs will become the release of dopamine in the brains of teens, which becomes extremely addictive for a stressful period of time. While our government and communities are begging to grapple with the epidemic of opioids, drug addiction treatment is becoming less taboo and more widely accepted.