When you think of drugs, an image of some millennial stoners probably pops into your head way before a medical prescription ever does. But when it comes to athletes, especially those that have undergone surgeries to repair their beaten bodies, drugs are thought of as an escape from pain rather than a recreational past time.
That doesn’t mean that those who take hard drugs like narcotics for medical reasons, won’t become addicted to them. After Tiger Woods’ arrest this past week, the police report recorded that he had been on four drugs at the time of his detainment. The report had written Soloxex, Vicodin, Torix and Viox, misspelling three out of four of the drugs.
Soloxex, or most likely Soloxine, is a drug that helps dogs with a thyroid issues. Vicodin is an opioid pain killer and the most common of the four drugs. Torix, or Torux, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and Viox, or Vioxx, is another NAID that has been banned in the U.S. The toxicology report won’t come back for a couple of weeks before it’s known exactly what he took.
The plausible case here is that he was prescribed Vicodin and an inflammatory drug post fusion surgery, and had a bad reaction to the combination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of people who undergo surgery get an opioid prescription. The thing here, is that Tiger has had multiple surgeries before, so you would think he would know what can and cannot mix. Every surgery is different though and maybe he was given a new prescription he had never had before.
Either way, Woods has taken Vicodin before, and he’s clearly using it now, so what does that mean for his golf game? What are the short and long term effects of Vicodin on an athletes body? And yes, Tiger is an athlete.
The Short Term:
Vicodin contains hydrocodone – an opioid substance – the drug will lead to effects that are similar to other opiates like morphine and heroin. All opiate effects are achieved when the substance enters the body and connects to opioid receptors, like the brain, spinal cord and other organ systems.
Once the drug hits those receptors, the effects can be lower perception of current pain, suppression of cough reflex, feelings of euphoria, calm and relaxation. Negative side effects can include nausea, constipation, slowed breathing, dizziness, impaired judgment, confusion and loss of consciousness. All of which are reasons not to enter a vehicle while on the substance.
This is what the drug is prescribed for. Now when it’s abused and used for more than just pain relief, the long term effects can be dire.
The Long Term:
In the long term, people who tend to use the drug over an extended period of time, have been known to block out all of the negative side effects and just focus on getting back the euphoric feeling.
A number of the health risks of opiate abuse stem directly from its effects on the nervous system. This can cause the person to feel an inflated amount of pain when they’re not on the drug, resulting in dependancy. It can also cause mood swings, anxiety, and problems with memory. While these are all bad, the most concerning result is an increased chance of bodily injury. An athlete, who is constantly moving, will be at more risk of injury to begin with, but with the added chances it seems unlikely that Tiger will ever return to the shape he had been in pre-surgery.
Post surgery, let’s just hope that Woods can return to the field pain free, and without need for Vicodin or any kind of drug. This drug is abused by almost 5 million people over age 12 in the US. If he does in-fact have an addiction, then let us hope he can find help.