Any stressful profession creates the potential for addiction or substance abuse among its professionals, and sports is no exception. Professional athletes experience high volumes of stress and anxiety over the pressure to perform, beat their opponents and not display any signs of weakness. For some, this pressure proves to be too overwhelming, and drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or one of many other types of addiction becomes their escape. Many are unable to control their addictions and, over time, their ability to perform athletically, maintain relationships and stay healthy becomes hindered due to their addiction. Often, athletes rise to glory just to be taken down by addiction.
One common form of addiction among professional athletes is an addiction to performance enhancing drugs. The question of whether or not performance enhancing drugs such as steroids are addictive is heavily debated. Some argue that they are not chemically addictive, but science would reason otherwise. Addiction can be identified by the characteristic of tolerance. Any substance that people deliberately ingest and can become tolerant of is identified as addictive. If the substance produces a desirable effect for the person, but the person has to continuously increase how much of it they use in order to keep achieving its effects, it is an addictive substance. Which is not to say that every person who uses it will become addicted, but those who do become addicted to the effects of the drug are in danger of jeopardizing their careers and their quality of life.
Other common forms of addiction among professional athletes are to recreational drugs, alcohol and sex. Athletes are people who crave and thrive on extreme circumstances and stimulation so escaping through extremely pleasurable substances or activities is common among athletes. Recreational drugs remove the mind from the person’s current circumstances and take them out of themselves. Alcohol numbs a person to feelings and briefly removes a person from their negative emotions. Sex is a similar kind of escape, creating an intensely pleasurable experience that allows a person a moment’s time to forget about their problems.