Sober Help for Athletes: The Compulsive Use of Supplements

Sober Help for Athletes: The Compulsive Use of Supplements | Transcend Recovery Community

Exercise is essential in maintaining one’s physical and mental health. In fact, recent research suggests that exercise can even prevent mental illnesses, such as depression, whereas previously exercise was suggested merely as a means to help treat certain psychological illnesses, not prevent it. The many benefits of exercise point out that participating in some form of it is essential to physical and mental health.

However, almost anything can become an addiction, and for athletes, exercise and the use of supplements can become compulsive behavior. In these cases, sober help for athletes might include providing them with education on how the need to athletically perform can contribute to addiction and the thought patterns that are typical of the addiction cycle. In fact, the pressure to perform may eventually contribute to the need to reside in a sober living facility.

The compulsive behavior that is at the root of addiction is often the subject of sober living treatment. One local athlete of Los Angeles demonstrated this compulsive behavior. At first, he simply wanted to feel better about himself and he thought exercise would do it. As he began to see his weight drop and his performance improve, he developed a regular schedule of lifting weights and taking supplements. Although he has stayed away from steroids, he admits to having a compulsive relationship to working out and performing well.

And this is usually how it begins. According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine approximately 24 to 29 percent of athletes use supplements to increase their sports performances. These supplements, however, do not yet have evidence for their effectiveness. Many supplements advertise their benefits, but it’s important to know that their effectiveness and safety do not have to be confirmed before they become available for sale. Some of these supplements include:

Beta-Alanine is supposed to improve high-intensity exercise performance. However, evidence is not sufficient to prove this.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids are intended to delay fatigue and boost the immune system. According to research, this supplement can provide fuel for endurance but it has not been shown to delay fatigue. Research is still underway to determine whether it boosts the immune system.

Caffeine claims to help burn fat, protect carbohydrate stores, and make you feel energized. It is true that caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can increase alertness, however, it does not appear to have the ability to burn fat during exercise. In fact, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned caffeine if too high an amount is found in an athlete’s urine sample.

Carnitine is supposed to help an athlete burn fat. However, it does not increase fat burning when used as a supplement.

Chromium Picolinate is a mineral found in foods that is supposed to aid in weight loss and body composition changes. There is currently insufficient support for these claims and it might cause damage.

Creatine reports to be able to increase lean body mass, strength, and performance. Research indicates positive results and that the claims of this supplement are true for those who respond to it well. However, there are some athletes who do not experience a result from taking it. It appears to be a safe supplement for athletes.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) claims to increase endurance and promote fat burning. However, research indicates that it does not enhance endurance and it is not recommended.

Pyruvate also claims to increase endurance and promote fat burning. However, research indicates that it does not enhance endurance and there is insufficient evidence for weight loss.

This is a list of various athletic supplements that can have dangerous health effects for athletes. Despite the false claims of these supplements, they are at least the legal options that athletes have. The illegal option is the use of steroids, which is a felony when taken without a prescription.  Although these supplements are legal, some can serve as a gateway to steroids and other addictive drugs. Eventually, seeking sober help may be necessary to identify and heal the presence of an addiction. In these cases, finding the right sober living facility should become the priority before playing any sports.

The pressure to perform and to look good can keep athletes hooked on supplements that might not be healthy and that have not been proven to be effective. Worse, they may lead to developing an addiction and may bring about the addictions to more serious illicit drugs. Seeking sober help is essential.


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