Michael Phelps, Johnny Manziel and Lamar Odum are a few of the athletes in professional sports whose careers and lives were tainted by the grips of substance abuse. Many people might think it was the fame, glory or pressure of the game that led these athletes to abuse drugs; however, the prescription drug epidemic is affecting more than just the elite population. The nation’s youth is heavily affected by substance abuse. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids states that there are nearly 2 million adolescents in need of help with a drug problem. According to a survey of students, young athletes are even more likely to abuse drugs.

Of all substances, prescription painkillers were among the most highly abused drugs by student athletes. Many addictions begin unintentionally and stem from medications prescribed for sport-related injuries. The stressors of high school sports have intensified over the years, and many athletes feel pressured to bounce back quickly from an injury. Because of this, some teens will abuse their prescriptions to mask the pain and get back in the game.

Parents should be involved in the academic and athletic lives of their children. It is imperative that parents remain active in the recovery in any injury their teen may encounter, especially sports. Monitoring medication intake and attending doctor’s visits with teens are some of the ways to combat substance abuse early on.

For more information about the warning signs of drug abuse among teens, visit http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/.