‘Part of the culture’: Study suggests link between sports and addiction – Edmonton

One of the many benefits of children playing sports is that the exercise can promote a healthy lifestyle at an impressionable age. But a new study suggests that sports culture could make kids more susceptible to addiction.

Laurie de Grace, a researcher at the University of Alberta, interviewed 21 people about their experiences. Seven people used to be addicted to a substance but were sober, 13 were in an addiction treatment program, and one was a counsellor.

Through her research, the master’s graduate of the faculty of Physical Education and Recreation found that while playing sports doesn’t mean athletes will necessarily develop addictions, it is often the culture that can push athletes toward problems with drugs or alcohol.

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly gets beer poured on his head after winning the Grey Cup in 2015. Alcohol is a prominent part of sports culture, often making athletes more susceptible to addiction. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

“The more risk factors that are present, the more likely they are to occur,” de Grace told CBC News this week.

Injuries treated with prescribed drugs, dysfunctional families and families with addictive tendencies are all additional risk factors for athletes, de Grace said.

“Something in the sport culture got them to start,” she said.

Team sports worse

De Grace studied athletes in both individual and team sports and found that many athletes were abusing substances such as alcohol and cocaine to cope with their often-high-pressure situations.

But even if athletes steered clear of addiction during their time in sport, they remain at risk.

“It was when [athletes] lost their sport, for one reason or another, that seemed to be the trigger that really set off the abuse of substance and the addiction developed,” she said.

Athletes who play on junior hockey teams can face peer pressure from teammates. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Further, de Grace said team sports can often mean a…

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