Participation in High-Contact Sports Increases Teens’ Risk of Substance Use: Study

Teens who play high-contact sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse or wrestling are more likely than those who play noncontact sports to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana, a new study suggests.

Playing noncontact sports such as tennis, swimming, track and gymnastics reduced the risk of substance use, Medical Xpress reports.

“Competitive sports participation can either inhibit or amplify substance use. It just depends upon which type of sport adolescents are involved with,” researcher Philip Veliz of the University of Michigan said in a news release.

Veliz said teens who play high-contact sports see their body as an instrument that can be easily gambled with. Those who play sports involving minimal or no contact are focused on maintaining their fitness, he added. The findings cast doubt on the belief that participating in any type of competitive sport will discourage teens from engaging in risky behaviors like substance use, Veliz noted.

The researchers used data from the annual Monitoring the Future survey, which asks teens about a range of topics including substance use, academic performance and participation in competitive sports. More than 21,000 teens were asked about substance and illicit drug use during a 30-day period, the article notes. The findings appear in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

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    October 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    This is a misleading title and a long reach for the articles conclusion. Janet is completely accurate. There are too many other variables to think involvement in “contact” sports leads to substance abuse. This is pseudo science and does not deserve the attention it’s been given.

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    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM

    October 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Amen Fr. Jack and Janet.
    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM, ( recovering addict and contact sport veteran)

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    Janet Pudlinski

    October 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    “Conclusions: Parents, educators, and policy makers need to consider that some sporting contexts may be a catalyst to engage in risky behaviors like substance use.” (from the original article link)

    While I find the results interesting, it’s important to remember: correlation does not equal causation. I think another possible hypothesis is that kids who are risk takers and thrill seekers are drawn towards those types of sports.

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