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Retired NFL players misuse painkillers more than general population
Date:1/27/2011

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"I know guys that have bought thousands of pills," Turley said. "Tons of guys would take Vicodin before a game."

The researchers say offensive linemen had particularly high rates of use and misuse of opioids.

"The offensive linemen were twice as likely as other players to use or misuse prescription pain medicines during their NFL careers," Cottler says. "In addition, this group tends to be overweight and have cardiovascular problems, so they represent a group of former players whose health probably should be monitored closely."

In fact, Cottler says it would be a good idea to continue monitoring everyone who has played in the NFL. She says this study revealed that some 47 percent of retired players reported having three or more serious injuries during their NFL careers, and 61 percent said they had knee injuries. Over half, 55 percent, reported that an injury ended their careers.

"These are elite athletes who were in great physical condition when their playing careers began," she says. "At the start of their careers, 88 percent of these men said they were in excellent health. By the time they retired, that number had fallen to 18 percent, primarily due to injuries. And after retirement, their health continued to decline. Only 13 percent reported that they currently are in excellent health. They are dealing with a lot of injuries and subsequent pain from their playing days. That's why they continue to use and misuse pain medicines."


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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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