Links in the chain: an approach to the treatment of drug abuse on a professional football team1

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The authors describe the first comprehensive drug-abuse program established for a professional football team through a cooperative effort by the team’s management and a psychiatrist/substance-abuse specialist. Cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol were the major drugs abused. Contributing factors included developmental immaturity, unhealthy environment, isolation, idle time, high income, overreliance on athletic talent, and minimal accountability. A total team commitment was mobilized to deal with the complex problems of the drug-involved player. This program has led to significant improvement in 75% of cases over an 18-month period. All participating players have improved their playing ability. The approach described here is offered as a model for use by professional athletic organizations and offers hope that the current epidemic of drug abuse among professional athletes can be abated.



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