New Survey of NFL Players Reveals League Pressure to Take Opioids

Photo by Getty Images; Logo courtesy of NFL

A new survey of over 150 current and former NFL players conducted by reveals a major disconnect between the league and it’s athletes surrounding drug use.

According to this latest data, 91 percent of the players surveyed said they had taken opiate-based painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and propoxyphene for pain—with 45 percent admitting to feeling pressured into using these drugs by team doctors, staff and teammates.

NFL Player Survey

Considering the current opioid epidemic ravaging America, along with marijuana’s accepted medical benefits for pain relief and conditions stemming from head trauma, allowing NFL players to use MMJ seems like it should be a no-brainer. Not for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Last week, Goodell went on ESPN’s sports talk show Mike & Mike to reaffirm his adamant opposition to removing pot from the NFL’s list of banned substances.

“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered.”

According to federal health officials, more than 91 people die every day from opioid abuse, and 68 percent of the NFL players surveyed confessed that they reached a point where they were concerned about their painkiller use.

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And with public outcry from current and former players at an all-time high, there’s no doubt that most athletes in the league would like the option to medicate with medical marijuana, which has never killed a single person and has been scientifically proven to help treat pain.

Over 89 percent of those polled said they believe that medical marijuana could be effectively used to treat pain, with nearly 88 percent saying they would consider using MMJ if it was an accepted treatment method in the NFL.

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“If there’s one sport that should legalize medical cannabis, its professional football,” former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Marvin Washington explained to “The unique compounds found in marijuana (CBD especially) can protect the brain as well as treat inflammation, insomnia and pain. CBD/medical cannabis is a terrific alternative to prescription opiates.”

According to CEO Brad McLaughlin, he was inspired to do this survey after speaking with a current NFL player about the problems with chemical painkillers currently plaguing his teammates and the league at large.

“These guys are national heroes, yet they are being given harmful and addictive substances by league doctors so that they can have a good day on the field,” McLaughlin said in a press release. “The saddest thing is that there’s a better alternative—but the league is senselessly dragging their feet on allowing medical marijuana for therapeutic use for players. It’s causing a lot of harm, and a lot of players are really unhappy with the state of things. Our survey shows that.”

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