Opiate painkillers are very powerful prescription medications that help relieve moderate to severe pain. All over the United States these powerful drugs have been over-prescribed and have flooded the black market. Thousands of Americans die every year from these drugs. The opiate epidemic now causes more deaths from overdoses than car accidents, which is raising red flags all over the country.
The strength of these medications is very beneficial in the sports world. Physical sports like hockey and football cause many injuries each game. Many professional athletes make millions of dollars per year. The competition in these leagues is the highest in the world. Who wouldn't want to play the game they love for millions of dollars each year? Most little boys dream of being a professional ball player. What is very alarming is that prescription painkillers are heavily abused in professional sports. Players need to do whatever it takes to stay on the field or court for each game. If you miss one game, someone else may take your spot. There is always other players who are younger, faster, and in better shape. The competition is huge, so many players do what they can to continue playing.
If you tune in to the National Football League every weekend during the season, you will see a bunch of injuries taking place in each game. These aren't little injuries like scrapes and bruises. Many of the injuries are broken fingers, deep contusions, sprains and tears. With devastating injuries, these guys continue to play each week. They are world class athletes but some of them are back on the field when most regular humans would be out for weeks if not months. How do they perform with such painful injuries week in and week out? It turns out a lot of them are abusing painkillers.
The DEA has launched an investigation into the NFL to determine their prescribing practices and where they are getting their medications from. The investigation was prompted by a class-action lawsuit filed in May, 2013 in federal court by nine named retired NFL players representing 1300 others who claim the NFL “intentionally, recklessly, and negligently created and maintained a culture of drug misuse, substituting players' health for profit,” according to court documents. The class-action lawsuit accuses NFL trainers of handing out prescription painkillers without prescriptions and without regard to possible dangerous interactions with other drugs.
The federal drug enforcement administration is looking into records pertaining to the distribution of prescription drugs handed out to players by trainers and doctors. The records will include documented visits and examinations by doctors, diagnoses and authorized prescriptions written for players. The investigation is described as being in its “early stages.” The DEA has not made any statements regarding the investigation.
Depending on what is found, the case could become a civil and/or criminal case with doctors potentially going to prison if convicted for drug-related offenses. NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello said in a statement Monday that “We are unaware of any such investigation.” It will be interesting to see how this turns out.