CBD and Painkiller Addiction in the NFL
Rampant abuse prompts ex-players to push for CBD research to treat head trauma.
“The reality is, it’s a violent game, and the violent outcome is pain.”
- Ex-NFL player Kyle Turley
Former Denver Broncos QB Jake Plummer recently got vocal about the benefits of CBD for those suffering from brain trauma.
Along with a handful of other retired National Football League (NFL) players, Plummer appeared in a public-service campaign called “When the Bright Lights Fade.”
Released in March 2016, the campaign was sponsored by Realm of Caring (ROC), a nonprofit research organization based in Colorado Springs; and CW Botanicals, a dietary supplements company specializing in hemp products. CW Botanicals is also behind the revolutionary strain of cannabis called Charlotte’s Web – named after Charlotte Figi who suffers from Dravet’s syndrome but has responded miraculously to CBD treatment.
The video was released as part of National Brain Injury Awareness month with the goal of raising $100,000 to fund research at John Hopkins University.
These players, along with countless other advocates, believe CBD could help millions who suffer brain injuries each year.
For example, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. Brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
CTE has been found in many former NFL players whose brains have been autopsied. It is also very common in sports like rugby, ice hockey, boxing, professional wrestling, stunt performing, and bull riding.
But according to one of the study’s backers, Ryan Kingsbury who is Chief of Strategy at CW Botanicals, “CBD is proven to benefit the endocannabinoid system, which regulates a variety of physiological processes in the human body, including mood and memory. Based on this it’s reasonable to presume that the use of CBD could prevent or at the very least delay the progression of CTE.”
Likewise, Heather Jackson, CEO of ROC believes CBD has excellent potential for treating CTE as well. “We know that CBD modulates neurons… We know that it acts on the receptor 5-HT1A. It acts on the opioid receptors. It enhances adenosine. New research is suggesting it increases bloodflow. We know all of these things, and they all relate to the symptoms of CTE.”
Of course, this push for research is exciting news for current players, former players, and the league in general – especially after reports have recently surfaced that point to an “epidemic” of painkiller medication addiction and abuse among players.
A scientific study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that retired NFL players misuse opioid pain medications at a rate more than four times that of the general population. These include extremely harmful drugs like Percocet and Vicodin.
The study, co-funded by ESPN and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, provides new evidence to suggest the roots of that misuse can be traced to the misuse of painkillers during players’ NFL careers.
What’s even more alarming is that when players were asked about their prescription painkiller use while playing in the NFL, 52% of retired players admitted they used prescription pain medication. Of those users, 71% admitted misusing the drugs during their playing days and, of that same group, 63% said they obtained the pills from a nonmedical source: a teammate, coach, trainer, family member, dealer or the Internet.
This is a major epidemic that threatens to turn into a full-blown crisis if something isn’t done immediately. And the answer could be something as simple as CBD.
Why should athletes be pushed to numb their pain with addictive, powerful prescription drugs when a novel painkiller and anti-inflammatory like CBD could have the potential to make highly addictive and harmful opiates obsolete?
The answer is they shouldn’t.
That’s why more and more ex-NFL players are coming forward to support CBD research and to get it on the NFL’s approved substances list.
According to Plummer, “What the ROC is doing cannot be overlooked by [the league] if they are serious about the long-term mental and physical health of their current and former players. CTE is a serious condition and CBD could be the answer.”
We believe so too.
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