As a media circus surrounded Lance Armstrong and his use of anabolic steroids to win his seven Tour de France championships, the average person may be led to believe that the use of steroids is the biggest problem in sports today, however the truth is much worse than steroids.

As athletes push themselves to play harder and to earn more championships and rings, many of them play with injuries or play through the pain of previous injuries and turn to the use of prescription pain killers to ease the discomfort and all them to continue.

Prescription pain killers are opiates and affect the central nervous system. Opiates block pain at the opioid receptors in the brain. Instead of feeling pain, the individual will feel a euphoric and pleasurable sensation. Some of the drugs that athletes “addicted” to prescription pain killers use are vicodin, oxycontin, lortab, fentanyl and percocet. These short term use drugs have the potential for physical dependency when taken long term. As the drug is taken over time and the individual will have to take more of the drug to achieve the same effect. The tolerance will continue to grow which creates a potential for overdose and death.

Trainers, team doctors and coaches also play a role in athletes’ addiction to prescription pain killers when they treat their injuries through training and practice. The well meaning trainer or coach may give the drug so that the athlete can push through the pain, however the athlete can still develop opiate overuse.

In many of these cases, we see more and more athletes go into drug detox for prescription pain killer use. The best method of drug detox that is recognized by physicians is IV therapy medical detox. IV therapy medical detox is supervised by a board certified and licensed physician that is highly trained and skilled in critical care medicine.

Intravenous therapy is important because it allows the doctor to make any necessary changes to the medication protocol as needed and as the withdrawal symptoms change. Withdrawal symptoms from opiate use can be painful and may include flu like symptoms, sweating, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anxiety and irritation.

Patient care will be monitored by registered nurses with ER and ICU care and with the aid of cardiac telemetry and video monitoring. Patients will detox in a private room with massage therapy. The patient is kept comfortable throughout the detox process and allows them to successfully complete detox.

Once detox is complete, it may be necessary to rebuild your life after prescription pain killer use. St. Jude Retreats offers an educational cognitive behavioral program that is a non-treatment program. We are not a 12 step program and we do not recognize drug use as a genetic disease. Rather, the St. Jude program teaches guests to use self assessment and self change to make decisions and choices that are more productive and to create habits and behaviors that are positive and purposeful. Our guests discover that they can have a life that is permanently free from the use of prescription pain killers.