NFL: OPIOID ADDICTION + MARIJUANA AS AN ALTERNATE

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NFL: OPIOIDS VS. MARIJUANA

"Retired NFL players use opioids at four times the rate of the general population, and marijuana advocates say there’s a safer, healthier alternative available."

- Washington Post (article)

The NFL (National Football League) is by far the one of the most physical professional sports, with over 40% of players reporting more than 3 career injuries, nearly half (49%) reporting diagnosed concussions and 81% reporting undiagnosed concussions. The league is no stranger to opioid use and addiction, with the sport’s dependance on drugs for pain management being the subject of a federal lawsuit, which sparked an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The topic of Marijuana as an alternate treatment for pain and injury is a growing debate, and now with the removal of CBD (Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant) from the World Anti-Doping Agency list of Prohibited Substances, we forsee more NFL players, current and retired, will be turning to cannabis for treating pain and injuries.

OPIOID STATS IN THE NFL:

  • 52% of NFL Players used opioids during their career
  • 71% reporting the misuse of opioids
  • 37% received opioids via a medical source/prescription from a doctor
  • 12% received opioids exclusively from a non-medical source
  • 51% (remaining) received opioids from a combination of medical and non-medical sources
  • Non-medical sources of opioids included: teammates, coaches, trainers or family members

*Stats from US National Library of Medicine report, "Injury, Pain, and Prescription Opioid Use Among Former National Football League (NFL) Players"

Image Source: eugenemonroe.com

Image Source: eugenemonroe.com


Marijuana as an Alternate

Every day, I wake up in pain, from my ankles to my neck. It’s part of the territory. I know what I signed up for. (Marijuana/CBD) If anything, it helps with anxiety, helps with concentration, it helps with pain.
— Ebenezer Ekuban, 40 (Defensive End, NFL 9 seasons)

Simply put, marijuana and CBD (Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant) are proven and effective at treating chronic pain, reducing inflammation, assisting with injuries and helping with focus. Moving away from pills and prescribing to plants, is a safer alternative that is not as disruptive to a player's health and not as addiction-forming as opioids, “If players are going to get NFL teams to move away from the use of synthetic pain drugs to treat injuries, I feel they need to band together and form an alliance with one another regarding the use of CBD (cannabidiol),” Leonard Marshall, former 12-year NFL defensive lineman (said in a press release for HERB). With the NFL taking note, and with the World Anti-Doping Agency removing the ban on CBD in professional sports (begins January 2018), we forsee marijuana becoming more commonplace in the sport. Even shows like HBO's BALLERS (Season 3) have shone the light on painkiller addiction and the introduction of marijuana as an alternate in Season 3 of the show. With more NFL players coming forward as advocates, stay tuned as we continue the discussion of marijuana and sports.


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