The Devastation of Drugs in Athletics

As a high school student athlete, I face many challenges. One challenge that has been eye-opening for me is the use of drugs within my team. At my school, there is policy on use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs that all athletes are supposed to follow, but it isn’t that harshly enforced. I feel like many adults either deny what is going on, are not educated on drug use, or feel conflicted about taking a player out of their star starting position. This season alone, my team has had caught and suspended three girls for drug-related activities. And yet they – and other teammates – are still using.

Being at practice every day, I often hear my teammates talking about their plans to go get high or the drug activities they have recently participated in. I have also been offered to try vaping while we were on a team trip. Drugs have become a huge distraction to our team and nothing effective is being done about it.

The use of drugs has also created a divide within our team. Those who use drugs are often not as honest to those who do not participate, as they are scared of being snitched on. Those who use drugs tend to socialize with the players who also use drugs whereas the players that don’t use socialize with each other. This divide in team dynamics affects our connection on the field.

One player in particular has amazing talent and could easily extend her sports career to a collegiate level. But I’m afraid that she is throwing away her talents by using drugs. Her grades have fallen due to a lack of effort in the classroom, making her less desirable to colleges. It is devastating for me to see a fellow teammate with so much potential have opportunity slip through her fingers. The worst part is, she doesn’t even seem to realize the potential outcomes of her actions.

I think that sports should create a safe space from the world of drugs and alcohol and possibly even from a player’s poor home life situation. Coaches have the unique opportunity to transform a team into a family that helps students deal with their problems in healthy ways but in order to do so, coaches should hold players accountable for their actions in school, after school, and on the weekends. No matter which way it is accomplished, there needs to be change! As teens, young adults, and athletes we need more structure, direction, and diligence from the adults in our lives to create a drug-and-alcohol-free atmosphere.

Claire O. is a high school student from Ohio. She is a part of the Drug Safe Worthington Youth Council, which is working to prevent drug and substance use in their community. She is also involved with multiple sports and other clubs at her school.

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