McNair Scholars Research Journal


The physical and emotional pressures experienced by competitive athletes are challenging. Research shows that 52% of professional football players have admitted to opioid use (Cottler et al., 2011), while up to 89% of college athletes have reported using alcohol as a response to injuries or feelings of pressure (Anderson et al., 1991). In addition, about 33.2% of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes reported having experienced episodes of depression (Debonis, 2019). This paper will examine the reasons why so many athletes’ careers result in drug abuse and how the mental health of these athletes plays a role in substance abuse within the athletic community.