Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2017
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Alex Boyd
Page: 3


Some athletes more prone to substance abuse: Study

New research from the University of Alberta suggests there could be a
potential link between sports and substance abuse.

Laurie de Grace set out to interview people recovering from substance
abuse for her master's research with the Faculty of Physical Education
and Recreation - and found unexpected things.

"I was surprised by the number of participants that I had that had a
strong sports background," de Grace said.

In a paper published this month in Psychology of Sport and Exercise,
she wrote that the prevalence of substance abuse in some sports
communities creates a greater risk of addictions for people already
vulnerable to them.

Her subjects included a former gymnast, rower and martial artist, but
a significant number had played team sports - especially hockey.

And a significant number were introduced to substance abuse by their
sport's culture, she said. Laurie de Grace

"One fellow I spoke to said he didn't drink or use marijuana when he
joined the team, but the older guys did and it was part of them
fitting in. Then they realized that when they became the older
teammates, they were now setting the example for the younger guys. So
it perpetuates."

In addition to those who were introduced to substance abuse, de Grace
found some respondents who'd been forced to quit their sport because
of addiction issues and those who'd started using because they'd had
to quit their sport.

The story is less than black and white.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse recently found that sports
programs can reduce substance abuse. The centre surveyed sports
programs that tried to educate kids about drugs - through things like
peer-to-peer education, or counselling.

The report points out that since the majority of children do some sort
of sport it's an "optimal opportunity" to reach a broad swath of them,
but added there needs to be more research about how to do it

De Grace's study is small - just 21 people participated-meaning the
sample size is far too small to draw large conclusions. A culture of
substance abuse in sports could be leading to problems, researcher
Laurie de Grace found.

Still, she said it's enough to suggest that coaches, parents and
athletes should be more aware of the culture around sports.

"I would like to see at the adult and coaching level more attention
paid to the example set for younger kids. You think if you get your
kids involved in sports you're preventing substance abuse. But little
do they know it's taking place right then and there."
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