By Kierstin Collins MS, LPC
Drug and Alcohol Issues and the Sports Shutdown
With gyms, fields, pools, and competitions closing overnight, athletes are left without structure, without routine, and without much accountability. They are suddenly home, sleeping in, staying up late, and separated from teammates and workouts. Some may be relieved for a break from grueling training or a competition year that wasn’t shaping up to be their best. Some will enjoy being a “normal” college-aged kid or young adult by doing things all their peers are doing. Like drinking alcohol, the way training never allowed for. The typical barrier to partying that training provides (a week, a training cycle, or a dry season) is gone, and with every postponement, competition seems further and further away.
Athletes are conditioned to do things with intensity, whether it’s on the field, in the pool, or in the weight room, and social activities are no exception. Squishing a week’s worth of “normal” college drinking and socializing into the one night off from training each week is a common practice. To an athlete’s detriment, alcohol is shown to dehydrate the body, deteriorate muscle growth, and reduce recovery in significant ways. Let’s not forget the unnecessary, often greasy meal that accompanies a night out. Most athletes will experience cumulative negative effects, but because they are still showing up to workouts and games, they will think their bodies aren’t impacted. They will also wonder why they aren’t hitting the time, weight, or place they wanted to or were capable of in the past. All this from one night out a week. Now enter the sports shutdown. With little activity to pour all that intensity into and no workout, game, or performance in the near future to prepare for, that once-a-week binge easily becomes a nightly habit.