Cocaine Addiction Information
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cocaineWhen professional golfer Dustin Johnson took a leave of absence for “personal reasons,”the media decided to connect its own dots and reported that he had been suspended by the PGA Tour due to a failed drug test. He recently tested positive for cocaine in the middle of his fifth year on the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson has failed three drug tests since 2009—one for marijuana and two for cocaine. He was suspended in 2012 for his second failed test, but this time the PGA claims he voluntarily took a leave of absence.

While this is good news for Johnson, as he states that he will be seeking professional help to overcome drug addiction, it begs the question—just how many professional athletes are battling drug addiction, and specifically cocaine?

Cocaine Abuse in Sports

While performance-enhancing drugs like steroids have been abused by athletes for decades, they are far out-shadowed by illicit drugs like cocaine. Cocaine abuse in sports first attracted national attention in 1986 with the shocking, cocaine-related deaths of basketball star Len Bias and football star Don Rogers. Yet cocaine is not typically known to increase performance—in fact, quite the contrary.

The lure of cocaine often comes from a variety of factors that are common among athletes: fortune, fame and free time, to name a few. Athletes often feel invincible, too, which makes for a deadly combination. The side effects don’t matter; the potential for addiction and ruined lives is a moot point, in their eyes. Yet athletic deterioration is inevitable after continued cocaine abuse.

While the media may choose to sink their teeth into athletes for cocaine abuse, as with anyone in the limelight, the truth of the matter is that cocaine abuse is not unique to sports. It is as widespread as the Plague and ruins more lives on a daily basis.

The Skinny on Coke

For an athlete, what begins as euphoria goes downhill fast. Observers report a number of tell-tale signs of deterioration in cocaine users:

  • Behavior changes, like showing up too early or late for practice, or being quick to antagonize their teammates.
  • Feelings of grandiosity that may skew the athlete’s perception of his actual performance.
  • Temperature changes leading to hyperthermia, especially if exercising in the heat.

Cocaine is a stimulant with similar effects on the brain as amphetamine. Euphoria can occur within three to five minutes of snorting and last for up to ten minutes. Addicts often “binge”as frequently as every ten minutes in order to maintain their intense high. Hence its extremely addictive qualities.

As abuse continues, the drug loses its potent effects, leaving the addict to seek stronger drugs.

Due to its effects on the brain and the heart, cocaine often has deadly effects including:

  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks, especially in cigarette smokers
  • Clots in the coronary arteries
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Sudden death

Drug Testing in Sports

Cocaine is banned in both professional and amateur sports. When drug testing is done regularly, it is not difficult to detect a cocaine user—the substance is readily detected in the urine. In fact, cocaine can be discovered up to five days after its use. In heavy, long-term cocaine users, the drug can even be detected up to twenty-two days after the last use.