4 out of 10 teens believe prescription drugs are less dangerous and less addictive than street drugs. In 2016 in Arkansas, the prescription painkiller death rate for those under 55 was nearly 5 times higher than it was in 2001.

If you suspect your athlete is at risk

If you notice one of your athletes has begun losing interest, has become withdrawn, depressed, hostile, or fatigued for no reason, you may not guess that something is wrong right away. But many of these behaviors can also be signs of drug-related problems.

A coach can pick up on other signs that could mean your athlete is at risk:

  • A decline in practice/game performance or attendance
  • Consistently late to practice and/or games
  • Becoming distant from other team members
  • Changing relationships with family and friends

What Coaches can do

  • Understand the risk factors for abuse of painkillers: stress over school work or exams, trouble with friends, depression, anxiety
  • Talk with athletes and parents about the risks and dangers of prescription painkillers, especially opioids and narcotics
  • Encourage parents and athletes to ask healthcare professionals for non-narcotic painkiller alternatives if prescribed
  • Let parents and athletes know that you will stand by them and offer support if they need it
  • Review your school’s policies on drug use and encourage administrators and other coaches to consider updating them to include use and/or abuse of narcotic painkillers
  • Watch athletes for signs of addiction