An Olympian’s Predisposition to Addiction

Edited by Living Sober

Last updated February 14, 2014

The Olympics are a tradition unlike no other. Starting in the 8th century B.C. in Olympia, Greece, these games have transformed into the most popular and widely advertised sporting event in history. Rooted in its popularity is not just the strength, agility, and talent of each Olympic athlete, but is something that has been around since man first walked the earth – competition.

In many cases, competition can be an excellent thing. Not only can it encourage and Olympian to continually strive to do better, but it can also encourage him or her to learn the art of sportsmanship. However, sometimes the competitiveness of an event as major as the Olympics can become overwhelming – and to a point where that sense of competition is no longer a good thing, but something that breeds issues such as addiction.

Why are Olympians More Likely to Become Addicted?

In the grand scheme of things, the majority of Olympians are clean. They do not engage in substance abuse, especially since they are aware of the harm it can cause their bodies (which can ultimately end their career). However, once they have stopped competing and are no longer in the lifestyle that puts them within eyeshot of a winner’s podium, things can quickly go downhill.

One of the most significant causes of addiction development in retired Olympians is the discomfort that comes with no longer being on top. For many athletes, the Olympics became a source of character definition, and without it, they can easily begin to feel lesser about themselves. As a result, the urge to experiment with drugs and alcohol can become stronger, leading to the possible development of addiction.

On the other hand, some Olympians are not as overly concerned with the lack of competitive edge that they used to receive via these games. Instead, they might struggle with physical injuries that have resulted from their time spent competing. Starting to use painkillers and/or other medications to cope with this pain can quickly escalate into a much more serious problems, especially if the injury and chronic pain is severe.

If an Olympian doesn’t experience a sense of character loss because of his or her lack of competing, or is lucky enough to not struggle with sustained physical injury, he or she simply might become depressed once this stage of their life is over. Going from being the cream of the crop to yesterday’s news can serve as a major hit to an ego that is likely to be sensitive to this kind of transition.

The dangers for these individuals are very real, especially when it comes to possible addiction development after the height of their prime. It is also important to understand that the feelings that Olympians might experience after they retire are often shared amongst a wide variety of different professions, despite their fame and notoriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction after a major transition, reach out for help today.