Professional athletes are thought of as models of physical aptitude, however, it is not uncommon for a professional athlete to develop a substance abuse problem and put their body, the instrument of their sport, into a compromised state. This has been a highly sensitive matter in recent years with the number of incriminating performance enhancing drug charges arising in professional athletes. However, the substance abuse problems far exceed performance enhancing drugs, and the boards and judges who determine an athlete’s level of success are not taking kindly to it. Among the more famous athletes who felt a decline in their careers after their substance abuse problem emerged are Michael Phelps, Dock Ellis and Darryl Strawberry.
The matter is serious because the sports industry holds its athletes to a particular performance standard that does not tolerate chemical alteration. The ethic of a natural sports performance, one that relies solely on skill and regimen, is valued far more than one that relies on chemical enhancement. The lines can be blurred between the definitions of diet, medicines and drugs, and not all sports organizations draw the lines in the same place, but a vast majority of sports organizations will not tolerate the use of any illegal substance, on or off the playing field. Some legal, prescription medications are also not tolerated, such as anabolic steroids.
Professional athletes, like every other demographic, are capable of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol and require professional treatment in order to recover. There are treatment facilities and rehabilitation centers that cater to high-profile individuals such as professional athletes, not just in the quality of life they offer, but in their medically supervised substance abuse detox programs, expertise on the particular challenges that certain high-profile professions present, and in their flexible treatment schedules that cater to the career obligations of their clients.