Although student-athletes are using fewer legal and illicit substances than they did almost a decade ago, a new study from the NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association) finds that lacrosse players, both men and women, still like to get ripped up on booze, marijuana and cocaine more than any of those who participate in other competitive endeavors. The consensus is that regardless of the demands that come with playing teams sports at the college level, there are still a number of athletes that are simply there to party.
The latest Student-Athlete Substance Use Survey, which has been conducted every four years since 1985, shows that athletes are less likely to engage in the consumption of alcohol and drugs than non-athletes. That’s the good news. Nevertheless, many of the 23,000 student-athletes polled in all three divisions are still feeding their heads, often with hard drugs, from time to time. Yet, the study is more than just an exploration of the kinds of substances these young people are getting into. It also looks at the reasons they gravitate toward specific substances, as well as whether they had previous experiences with drugs before entering college. Researchers also examined the overall attitude regarding the NCAA’s drug testing policy.
It is not unusual to find that binge drinking is a bit of a problem among college athletes. Boozing it up and working through the hangovers is a big part of the experience. Some of the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 34 consume 17 billion binge drinks on an annual basis. It is a problem that only continues to get worse in America. However, the NCAA study shows that men’s lacrosse players are tearing up their livers with rabid enthusiasim. Around 69 percent of these guys in all three divisions consume five or more alcoholic beverages every time they get into the bottle.
It also makes sense that marijuana use is high among college-athletes. A handful of states, including Colorado, California and Nevada, have legalized the leaf for recreational purposes and around 30 others have approved it for medicinal use. These new pot laws allow adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis products in a manner similar to alcohol – providing easier access than in times of total prohibition. Furthermore, marijuana is the most popular illicit substance in the United States. A recently Gallup poll shows that 45 percent of U.S. adults have smoked weed at least once in their lives. Another 12 percent (around 1 in 8) are current users.
The NCAA found the popularity of weed is no different in the sport of lacrosse. Fifty percent of these players use cannabis — 77 percent said they do it for social reasons, while 20 percent use it for pain management. The study found that marijuana use was higher in those states where it is legal, despite the fact that it still remains on the NCAA’s banned substances list.
But weed is no substitute for opioid pain medications – at least not in the sport of lacrosse. These players use prescription painkillers more than any other in organized athletics. But this is not necessarily a representation of the hardcore junkie mentality coursing through the veins of college athletes. Prescription painkillers are commonly used in college sports because they are accepted treatments under the NCAA’s drug policy.
Cocaine, however, is not a drug appreciated by the powers of the NCAA. But this doesn’t mean that student-athletes are not snorting it up whenever they get the chance. Columbian go-go dust is a fan favorite among college lacrosse players. The study shows that 22 percent of the male players have used coke in the past year. Six percent of the women players reported using it as well. Although the numbers might not sound concerning, they are. To put them into perspective, the next highest reported cocaine use in male college athletes was in Ice Hockey, Swimming and Wresting – all showing 7 percent use.
When it comes to the NCAA’s drug testing policies, most agree that their drug use puts them at risk for getting caught. A little over 30 percent say these policies have deterred college athletes from using drugs, and believe that penalties, such as disqualification, should be applied to those who fail to adhere.
Interestingly, despite the changing attitudes with respect to marijuana, around 17 percent of the respondents still believe schools and the NCAA should continue testing for it. This does not bode well for Georgia resident C.J. Harris, who was recently disqualified for playing NCAA Football at Auburn next year after it was discovered that he uses a non-intoxicating form of marijuana to treat his epileptic condition.
Overall, the study finds that college lacrosse players are alcoholics and dope fiends. But this is not the first time these players have been called out for their buzzed indiscretions. For years, the NCAA report has shown these men and women to have a ravenous predilection for intoxicating substances. At this point, getting fucked up is just part of the game.
But in spite of it all, the association is still proud to report that more college-athletes are making healthier choices these days than in times past. So that’s nice.