Mike Alstott spent 12 seasons as a fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the National Football League (NFL). With a 6-foot-1, 250-pound frame, Alstott was known as “The A-Train” during his heyday. Throughout his career, he was able to collect 71 touchdowns, 5,088 yards rushing, 6 Pro Bowls and 1 Super Bowl championship. All this achievement though came with a heavy price: debilitating aches and injuries that required him to take painkillers regularly.
Anesthesiology expert Dr. Anita Gupta estimates that around one hundred million Americans are suffering from chronic pain. "It's a really staggering figure that's been rising year after year,” she said. But the good news is more medication options are available today for pain suffers whether they are professional athletes or regular men and women who perform moderate physical activity. These options often include the use of popular painkillers such as Vicodin, Percodan, OxyContin and Percodan.
So what’s the catch? If not used properly and safely, these drugs could kill. It is estimated that 44 people die every day because of the misuse of pain killers. What is even sadder is that most of these cases are preventable with some cases considered as unintentional. These deaths are caused by acts such as not taking the drugs the way they are intended to be taken and the failure to understand taking multiple drugs can cause harmful effects and even death.
Alstott, who now spends his time training and guiding young individuals as coach of a high school football team in Florida, considers himself as one of the lucky ones. Throughout his 12-year career, he has experienced 47 injuries. This is the reason why he needs to take opioids to manage the pain. The advantage of Alstott over other users is that he always had experts guide him in the proper consumption of painkillers and made him understand how to not abuse these drugs. This is the reason why Alstott considers his experience with painkillers as generally good.
Alstott is aware though that not everyone is as fortunate as he is. “They may not know the risks,” he said referring to the general populace. “They may even be afraid to discuss it over with their doctors. They may not know that drug poisoning is the leading cause of accidental deaths in America, even surpassing vehicular accidents.” Alstott believes that people need to be informed about this issue. He believes that those in the know should help other people to start a conversation about their doctors about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Alstott also believes that the discussion about the dangers of painkillers should not only be between patients and doctors. Friends, relatives and loved ones of those involved should also get into the conversation because they are the ones who can really help the patients. The former pro-football star currently supports a campaign called, “America Starts Talking” campaign that aims to offer consumers easy access to information about pain killers online through easy-to-understand discussion guides. The campaign is supported by the U.S. Pain Foundation, The Pain Community, The American Chronic Pain Association and American Academy of Pain Management.