Going on Offense Against Painkiller Abuse in NFL

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May 21, 2014


Protection from Abuse?

Eight former professional football players are at the center of a class action suit filed against the National Football League. They claim the NFL illegally provided them with prescription painkillers without regard for their health, creating long-term complications including opioid abuse and addiction.
The suit was filed in San Francisco, with eight players named and 500 former NFL players signed on as part of the class action. It claims that the players got drugs obtained by the league and used them to play while injured so the league could boost its profits. Some players continued taking pain pills even after their injuries had healed and after they retired. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was taking up to 100 Percocet pills per month. The players claimed that they trusted team doctors and trainers and did not question their treatment.
Players say they were not told of the side effects and contraindications of the drugs, and in some cases were not even told of their own injuries, including broken bones. The New York Daily News story about the lawsuit said that former Bears player Keith Van Horne got the team doctor in trouble when Van Horne got a prescription from a non-team doctor. The team had already prefilled a large prescription in his name, so the second prescription raised a red flag with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The NFL had no statement about the suit the day it was filed.
An earlier study published by researchers from Washington University and reported by ESPN showed that out of 644 former NFL players surveyed, 52 percent of them used prescription painkillers. And three-quarters of that group misused them. The study’s finally numbers showed that NFL players misused painkillers at a rate four times higher than the general population.
The lawsuit makes this clear: Addiction has nothing to do with strength or overcoming adversity. It can happen to anyone, at any time.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid abuse, Lakeview Health can help. Contact us at 866.704.7692 and we can talk to you about treatment. You do not need to face this alone.

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