The L.A. Kings have had a difficult spring.
First, the 2014 NHL champions failed to earn a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the first defending Cup champions to miss the postseason since 2007. Ten days later, forward Jarret Stoll was arrested for illegal drug possession.
Stoll is alleged to have had 3.3 grams of cocaine and 8.1 grams of Ecstasy concealed in his shorts at the time of his arrest at a Las Vegas hotel pool party. Despite the sign warning people that they would be patted down on the way inside, Stoll took his chances and a security guard found numerous gel-caps filled with an off-white substance consistent with the drug “Molly” along with a pink baggie containing white powder. According to the police report, when asked if the powder inside the baggie was cocaine, Stoll said, “Yes.”
And then on June 13, forward Mike Richards was taken into custody at the Canadian/U.S. border in connection with the unlawful possession of OxyContin tablets. It is illegal in both the U.S. and Canada to possess prescription drugs without a valid prescription.
What is OxyContin?
OxyContin is a controlled substance used to treat severe pain. It produces a pleasant high but has the potential for physical and psychological dependence. Oxycodone, the main ingredient in OxyContin, is a popular opioid drug on the black market.
Drugs from the opioid family are derived from the poppy plant, as are morphine, codeine and heroin. They can be extremely addictive and difficult to quit. In fact, OxyContin is said to be the legal prescription version of the street drug heroin. Like street drugs, athletes can build up a tolerance, leaving them wanting more to produce the desired effect.
‘It is often difficult for someone with an addiction to seek help on their own,” notes David Dequa, program director at The Discovery House, a Southern California drug treatment center. “The Discovery House helps individuals detox from opiate dependence and addresses the underlying core issues that caused that addiction.”
How do athletes get hooked on these drugs?
We don’t know for sure why Richards happened to be carrying OxyContin, but the chances are good that it’s a result of injuries suffered while playing ice hockey. If you are involved in sports and athletics, it won’t be long before you suffer a sports injury of some type. Injuries are part of any game. Coming back from injuries is part of the tradition of sport.
As noted in a recent New York Times article, “There are so many factors that compel athletes to rush back before they are healed. The ever-present fear of losing one’s position, the pressure to live up to a large contract and, of course, the noble sense of helping the team win.”
Financially, there is a lot riding on sporting events, and one injury can ruin a person’s career. Even in the midst of dealing with serious injuries, professional athletes feel the pressure to perform.
Those in the professional sports industry start taking opioids because of sports-related injuries and years of physical impact. These medications, which are usually prescribed first by team doctors, allow players to continue playing through pain as the pain signals are blocked from reaching the brain. Once the game is over, athletes are left to deal with the repercussions of playing with sustained injuries. One of those consequences is often an addiction to painkillers.
What is the NHL drug policy?
Specifically, the NHL Drug Policy provides that any player arrested on drug charges is required to submit to a substance abuse evaluation and other treatment deemed appropriate by doctors. If the doctors determine that treatment is required, the player will be placed into a Stage 1 residential alcohol or drug program, such as The Discovery House, although the player continues to get paid.
If a player is convicted of a controlled substance offense (including under a plea arrangement), he is placed into Stage 2 of the drug program. The player is suspended without pay during his treatment and can be reinstated by the league should doctors recommend it.
The Discovery House, located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, utilizes a variety of treatment programs that allow each client to receive the individualized care they deserve. The pet friendly Southern California rehab center offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs to help drug addicts and alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.
Each client at The Discovery House receives customized care to end their dependence on prescription drugs, heroin and other opiates and/or alcohol in order to live a sober life. To learn more about call (855) 203-7930.