Drug abuse among professional basketball players is a problem as old as time. In some circumstances it may not be the athletes fault. For example when they are treating a minor cough or a cold, the medications used will sometimes contain small amounts of alcohol. On the other hand some athletes purposely abuse drugs for a variety of reasons.

Some attempt to cover up the presence of other drug abuse but most abuse drugs because they will enhance their performance. The most common abused drugs in professional basketball are: anabolic steroids, marijuana, and amphetamines. Each drug has its own effect on performance, and disciplinary actions. When an athlete uses anabolic steroids, they usually feel that they will give them a competitive advantage over their opponents. If you think that only football players, weightlifters, and sprinters take steroids your wrong. Steroids are designed to mimic the bodybuilding traits of testosterone. The exact effects of anabolic on the athlete and athletic performance remain controversial but some test results have shown that steroids affect the professional basketball player’s performance in different ways.

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Steroids are said to make the athlete feel more energized, more aggressive, and able to train harder. When athletes choose to abuse anabolic steroids it also results in disciplinary actions if they are tested positive by the league. Three types of testing in professional basketball are reasonable cause, first-year, and veteran testing. If any player tests positive for the first time during any of the three tests, they will be suspended for five games. A second offense for anabolic steroid abuse will result in a ten-game suspension and a third offense will result in a twenty-five game suspension. The National Basketball Association will release any player if they are convicted of, or plead guilty to a crime involving the use or possession of steroids.

Marijuana is the most widely used of the illicit drugs in the National Basketball Association. Marijuana has many negative affects to using it: it impairs skills requiring eye-hand coordination and fast reaction time. It also reduces motor coordination, tracking ability, and perceptual accuracy. When using marijuana you may have side affects such as difficulty concentrating and times where you are in dreamlike situations that seem unreal to you.

It is known as a “motivational syndrome” and has many direct affects to athletic performance. Apathy, impaired judgment, loss of ambition, and an inability to carry out long-term plans characterize the motivational syndrome. Just like steroid abuse has its consequences and disciplinary actions so does marijuana abuse. Marijuana also has the same three testing methods as steroids have: reasonable cause, first-year, and veteran. For a first offense of marijuana possession or use, the player will be required to enter the substance abuse program with no suspension or fine.

On a second offense, the player will be fined $15,000 and be required to re-enter the program. A third offense will result in a five game suspension and another entry into the program. Any further abuse of marijuana will not result in any disqualification from the National Basketball Association but a further suspension will be prearranged.Amphetamines are used to delay the point of fatigue in athlete’s workouts, to which they will be able to withstand more exercise and competition. Amphetamines do not create extra physical and mental energy. They are significant for distorting the player’s perception of reality and impairing judgment, which may cause an athlete to participate while injured, possibly leading to worse injuries and putting others at risk.

Various tests that have been conducted on professional basketball players suggest that amphetamine use can enhance skills which play a key roll in athletic performance. The skills include: speed, power, endurance, concentration, and fine motor coordination. Some athletes will use amphetamine because they feel that it will give them a competitive advantage over other players. Along with the other two drugs mentioned, amphetamine abuse has its consequences. The same three tests are administered for amphetamines as used in steroid and marijuana.

Unlike steroid and marijuana abuse, there is rarely a second chance after using amphetamines or any of its analogs, cocaine, LSD, opiates, or PCP. If amphetamines are found during any of the testing methods, the player will be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA. If the player is convicted of or pleads guilty to a crime involving the use or possession of amphetamines they will also be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA.

There have been at least ten players in the past ten years to have been arrested for drug abuse with marijuana, steroids, and amphetamines. Most of the cases publicly reported are of athletes that purposely abused the drugs. When an athlete accidentally abuses drugs it is most likely not going to be publicized because it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. All of the three drugs discussed and explained have negative effects and consequences for the athlete. If any player fails to comply with the program or the programs requirements, they will be given a substantial fine and be suspended from team participation. Further Essential Information: Here is a list of recent players with drug abuse problems from the Indiana Prevention Resource Center:YearAthleteSportProblem or Incident1998Chris WebberNBA BasketballArrested twice for marijuana possession and driving under the influence of drugs; shoe endorsement contract cancelled.

1998Greg “Cadillac” AndersonNBA BasketballArrested for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and money laundering.1998Kareem Abdul JabbarEx-NBA BasketballArrested for marijuana possession at airport in Canada.1997″Mookie” BlaylockNBA BasketballArrested for possession of marijuana while already on probation for marijuana and drunk driving convictions.1996Isaiah RiderNBA BasketballArrested for marijuana possession.

1996Juwan HowardNBA BasketballArrested for driving under the influence.1995Vernon MaxwellNBA BasketballCharged with marijuana possession. Convicted in 1998, spent 45 days in jail.-http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/prevention/ideas/drugged_athletes.html

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