When it comes to drugs in professional sports, most news outlets highlight the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs while addressing concerns over the purity of the sport. Few articles take a hard look at the health dangers of all types of drugs, from steroids and human growth hormones to narcotics and alcohol.

Sports are one of the nation’s most watched and discussed forms of media, yet the health issues surrounding drug use and the options for recovery are often pushed under the rug. While you often hear about players getting suspended for drug violations you don’t hear their recovery stories as much as you should.

The Wrong Spotlight

Like any group of people, professional athletes struggle with drug use and benefit from recovery and treatment. The sports world is a bit behind in understanding drug use as a disease of addiction. The focus is often on what illegal drugs players have used and how long they will be away from the team. But stories about recovery in professional sports are slowly making their way into the public eye.

Inspirational tales about athletes who have made the decision to get help and enter treatment can inspire a nation filled with people struggling against the disease of addiction.

The Herren Project

Chris Herren, the former NBA player, has broken the media barrier in recovery stories in sports. You can read his biographical account, Basketball Junkie, and watch his story, Unguarded, presented by the ESPN 30 for 30 film series. However his recovery from addictions to heroin, opiates, cocaine, and crystal meth did not simply end with an addiction treatment program.

Herren continued practicing his recovery work and carried the message to others, particularly young students and athletes. He created The Herren Project where he tours across the United States to speak with children about his experiences with sports, drugs and recovery. Herren’s story has gained attention in the media and is the exact type of focus the sports world needs.

The Impact of Awareness of Drugs in Professional Sports

Addiction is often called a disease of isolation and hiding. Recovery opens the door for people to openly discuss their struggles with the disease of addiction with others in recovery. As athletes step up to share their story with others, more people will feel comfortable in seeking treatment. Major changes are needed in all levels of sports as well as the media to help spread awareness on addiction and treatment options for recovery.

  • Professional sports drug bans have not reduced use
  • An NCAA study reports a rise in alcohol and social drug use
  • Athletes in violation of drug bans are not required to enter treatment programs
  • The most widely discussed topic for drugs in sports is only on performance enhancing substances

Seeking Help

Athletes represent just one small part of people struggling with the disease of addiction. But they do help to highlight that anyone, regardless of age, race, health or profession can not only face the problem of addiction but seek help from treatment centers. No one has to face the disease of addiction alone. If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction and is ready to find help, please call to learn more about available treatment options.