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How Injuries Can Lead to Addiction

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sport injury medication prescription addiction treatmentReasons Why Injuries Can Lead to Addiction

An athlete who has had a significant injury can be at risk of developing an addiction to prescribed medication. The pain of the injury is often so severe that the person would do anything to try to stop it. This type of intense pain can lead to drug use, alcohol use, and other addictive behaviors in order for the person to avoid the pain. From prescribed medication to alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, addiction is one of the most prevalent issues in the sports world today.

Some athletes who have suffered painful injuries in their career have gotten hooked on prescribed medication drugs, with many of them questioning how or why they became addicted in the first place. Risk factors for this type of behavior include genetics, environment, and traumatic experiences that can cause a person to think about their pain.


The Physical Pain of an Injury

The physical pain of an injury can be one of the most intense pains a person will ever experience. When a person has an injury, they often use drugs to help cope with the physical pain. Upon taking these drugs, a chemical reaction releases certain chemicals throughout the body. Some of these chemicals are endorphins, often called the “happy hormones.” These hormones are released to make up for the sudden drop in serotonin levels due to pain and stress. However, these happy hormones can cause injured athletes to become addicted, which is why some of them use drugs and alcohol to increase their endorphin sensitivity.

The Mental Pain of an Injury

The physical pain of an injury can often cause mental pain. When an injury happens, an athlete may become depressed, feel anxious, and feel like they have lost control. It is common for athletes to develop anxiety disorders following significant injuries. Anxiety disorders are often a consequence of the intense emotions that come injuries and the considerable amount of physical pain they can bring. These feelings of mental distress can lead to substance abuse or other addictive behaviors in order to cope with the mental suffering as well as the physical pain felt after being injured.


“What If” Questions

An athlete may have an internal dialogue of “what if” questions when an injury occurs. These questions often focus on the negative and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. An individual may be asking, “What if this doesn’t get better?” or “What if the pain never stops?” This kind of questioning does not give a person any solutions. When all the solutions are negative, the athlete feels they have no option but to seek anything that can relieve their mental suffering. For individuals to feel better emotionally, they feel the need to use drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the mental stress of “what if” questions.


Loss of Control

In order for an injured athlete to feel in control of their life and pain, they need to be able to make changes. If there is no way for the injured athlete to do this, they can feel like they’ve lost control of their life. An injury during one’s prime years as an athlete can completely throw off their plans for achieving everything they wanted. In many cases, this loss of control can cause a person to seek out substances like drugs or alcohol in order to feel more in control.


Loss of Authority or Responsibility

When an injury occurs, an injured athlete’s sense of authority is taken away from them. Sometimes, the athlete will not have anyone else to rely on during their recovery. This can lead the injured athlete to believe there is no authority over them or that they have no responsibility for anyone around them. In order for them to cope with the loneliness they feel in this situation, they might turn to drugs or alcohol to fill that void.


The Feeling of Loss

It is common for athletes who become injured to experience a feeling of loss in other parts of their life. Whether it is a loss of trust, a loss of identity, a loss of time, or even the loss of friends, family, or a relationship that no longer has meaning, it can make the athlete feel like they are losing control over their life and their ability to cope. This brings on intense emotions, which can often cause an injured athlete to seek other ways to help them cope with these losses.


Lack of Self-Worth and Achievement

When an injury occurs, it is common for an athlete to feel that their accomplishments have been for nothing. They no longer feel like they can complete any of the goals they had set in the past. This often leads to low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness, which can cause the athlete to view themselves as a failure instead of the success they once were. These feelings are common after injuries and may lead people to think about drugs or alcohol to cope.


The Loss of Relationships

Many injuries leave an athlete feeling isolated from those around them. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. When an athlete is depressed due to their suffering, they are more likely to turn to substance use in order to cope with that depression. Over time, people begin to isolate themselves due to the pain they feel. Then, it becomes easy to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their feeling of isolation.


Treatment for Addiction Due to Injury

First and foremost, if you are addicted or using drugs to cope with pain, then seek help from a professional. There are many treatments for addictions that can include medication and counseling. Do not self-medicate with drugs or alcohol when dealing with an injury. This will only make things worse in the long run. You need to be as healthy as possible while dealing with injuries. If you are not in the best of health, it will take you longer to heal. If you feel like taking drugs or drinking alcohol to cope with your injury, try to find another outlet. If you are still able to exercise, this can help with the pain and keep you from taking drugs or alcohol. If exercise is not an immediate option, then meditation, socializing, or a creative hobby might help.

Share your experience with others who have been through an injury while they were addicted or using drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. These people may know how you feel and can give you advice on how to get through it. Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is easier than dealing with addiction by yourself.

Set goals like attending meetings and counseling sessions. When attending meetings, you are setting a goal to be sober, which is important in recovery. Try to find a counselor and professional therapist who will help you with your addiction and injury at the same time, so you do not have to go to two different therapists. You do not want to confuse them or yourself by trying to juggle two separate treatment plans. If your injury is minor enough that it can improve with physical therapy, look into that instead of going for regular doctor visits every week.



Injuries are often a major cause of addiction for athletes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow these tips and seek help, you can start healing from your injury as well as heal from your addiction. Just remember that it’s OK to give yourself a break if you are tired or need a rest. That does not mean your recovery has stopped or failed. You will have bad days, but focus on the positive and talk to someone you trust when you feel like taking drugs or drinking alcohol again.


Medical Detox

The reality is that no matter what type of addiction someone has, there will be withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop. When addicted individuals want to refrain from drugs, they usually try to do it on their own, but it rarely goes as planned. In most cases, the withdrawal will only make the person crave more drugs and fall back into addiction. Some athletes have been struggling with addiction for years and want to get clean but don’t know where to start. The best answer is finding a medical detox center that offers therapy and medication-assisted treatment in order to help with withdrawal symptoms and get through the first few weeks of recovery without relapse.

This method is very effective because it combines all the treatment methods that a person might need. One of the best detox methods is the use of medications to help with withdrawal symptoms as a first step in getting through detox and beginning recovery.


Why Athletes Need Drug Rehab After Injury

An injured athlete is typically in so much pain that the only way to alleviate their pain is through drugs. It is important to remember that this does not have to happen. There are many types of addiction, but with medication-assisted treatment and therapy combined with traditional treatments like counseling sessions.

Keep in mind that addiction is not just a physical issue but an emotional and mental one as well, so treating addiction will involve all aspects of the human body and mind.


Prevent and Treat Addiction

Drugs can be used for treatment in a number of ways. Prescription drugs like non-opioids can be given to clients with chronic pain to prevent them from developing an addiction. Drug rehab with medication-assisted treatment is important after an injury because it helps prevent addiction before it even begins and immediately helps a patient come off of any harmful substances they may be on at the time of care.

The second is using more natural methods for treatment. Clients can utilize non-addictive alternative remedies and get counseling to help them work through their addiction issues in a safe and effective way.


Granite Recovery Centers

Injuries can cause athletes to turn to prescription drugs to escape their pain. It is important to turn to counseling and therapy instead of drugs to deal with the trauma of such an injury.

If you are an injured athlete and have been battling an addiction to prescribed medication or any other drug, call us at Granite Recovery Centers. Our team of professionals is always available to help you conquer your addiction and provide physical therapy and counseling. Our staff is ready to answer any questions you may have, and we are happy to help you find the best treatment option for you or your loved one.