Back in May, 2017 former NFL players filed a lawsuit alleging NFL violations of the (Controlled Substances Act).

The article states:

The lawsuit alleges the NFL and its teams, physicians and trainers acted without regard for players’ health, withholding information about injuries while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, and anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, to mask pain and minimize lost playing time. The players contend some teams filled out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge or consent, then dispensed those drugs — according to one plaintiffs’ lawyer — “like candy at Halloween” as well as combining them in “cocktails.”

Several former players interviewed by The Associated Press described the line of teammates waiting to get injections on game day often spilling out from the training room. Others recounted flights home from games where trainers walked down the aisle and players held up a number of fingers to indicate how many pills they wanted.

I’m not a football player but I am a BIG football fan. I follow several NFL teams closely as well as several SEC football teams.  I cringe when I see the big tackles and hits. I am sad when I see broken ankles, dislocated joints, concussions and bruised or damaged ribs due to playing football. It really is amazing when they get back out on that field and play, isn’t it?

In fact, it’s almost suspicious.

When I see what looks to be a career ending injury and the player gets a wrap on it and either heads back onto the field after halftime or returns for the next game,I know I’m not the only one who wonders how on earth that is physically possible.

Let’s not pretend we don’t know what’s going on here, folks.  The answer is painkillers. Prescription drugs.  Vicodin, Percoset, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin are all prescription painkillers that all doctors use to help patients manage pain.  Are we going to act like the NFL isn’t using these in great numbers?

As much as we’d like to believe these players are super human heroes who can withstand injury upon injury and can keep playing as tough as they always have with just some ice and an ace bandage – I think we all know that just isn’t the case.  I don’t believe that I am the first to think it, say it or write about it – and you know you’ve thought it too.

I’m proud of the NFL players for stepping up and finally talking about what we already knew to be the case.  Our football players are American royalty. They are role models to children. They are athletes with amazing strength, speed and endurance.  They can lead a nation in helping kids exercise more.  There are not many of them which makes them even more rare and special.

But what else do football players represent?  Money.   They drive ticket sales. They drive merchandise sales. They represent huge brands like Papa Johns, Nike and Gatorade.  The American public is fickle and can easily move on when a player is injured – out of sight, out of mind.  The NFL knows this and money is the main reason these players have to keep playing, no matter what the injury.

Prescription painkillers have provided an easy way to keep a player playing much longer than is safe for him.  The point of prescription drugs for pain is not to heal – it’s treat the symptom to keep playing.

Among other claims of permanent nerve damage, chronic bone and muscle ailments and organ damage – prescription drug addiction is on the list of complains from the NFL players in this lawsuit.

Given the highly addictive nature of drugs like Percoset, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Vicodin – it comes as no surprise to us at Vertava Health that this is a part of the lawsuit.  We’re in the business of prescription drug addiction treatment.  We know that painkillers are as addictive as heroin. We know that prescription pain killers  change the chemistry of the brain and stop producing happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin – causing a reliance on the pills.

But does everyone know that? Did those NFL players have any idea that what they were taking would bring about a severe addiction? They were doing what they were told to do to play and get paid and keep the football franchise winning and making money.  They took the pills, felt no pain and played. They did not what they were taking. But you know who did know?

Their doctors.

Look – I’m not anyone at ESPN, I’m not a sports reporter, nor did I play football in high school or college.  I’m not a sports medicine expert, a football physiologist or even a dentist.

What I’m trying to say is – you don’t have to be any of those people to know that painkillers are highly addictive and dangerous.  Big Pharma can try to squash the negative messaging about prescription drugs by hiding the drug side effects in a quick list at the end of the commercial and your sports doctors can tell themselves they just want to heal the pain first and figure out a long term plan later – but side effects still exist. And one of the biggest side effects of taking prescription painkillers is ADDICTION.

It’s not okay what has been done to these athletes.  I can’t imagine going into work and pulling my back out and being required to take prescription pain killers to keep working and getting paid.  How is that fair?

It’s not.

Athletes, celebrities and all of the rest of us need to be informed about what painkillers can do.  Taken in short doses they can help relieve the side effects of major pain so that a real plan can be developed to treat the root of the pain. Anything beyond that leads one to a life of addiction.

I wish the NFL players luck with their lawsuit. It’s been a long time coming and it’s going to probably be a long ugly fight until they get vindicated but it will be worth it. We need to expect more from our medical community, we need to expect more from our employers and we need to expect more from ourselves.

Thanks for reading and be safe,


Julie Eisenbeck

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