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Recreational substance use among elite Australian athletes

Authors


Matthew Dunn BA (Psych), PostGradDipPsych, GCertPopH, PhD, Lecturer, Johanna O. Thomas BA (Psych), MPH, Research Officer, Wendy Swift BA (Hons), MPH, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Lucinda Burns BA (Hons), MPH, PhD, Grad Cert Health Policy, Senior Lecturer. Dr Matthew Dunn, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, 2052, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)29385 0167; Fax: +61 (0)29385 0222; E-mail: m.dunn@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Introduction and Aims. The study aimed to investigate the prevalence of illicit drug use among elite Australian athletes with a focus upon cannabis, ecstasy, meth/amphetamine, cocaine, GHB and ketamine; explore perceptions concerning the extent of drug use among this group; ascertain opinions regarding specific drugs of concern; and investigate predictors of recent drug use. Design and Methods. Data were taken from surveys with 974 elite athletes. Results. One-third of the sample had been offered or had the opportunity to use illicit drugs in the past year; despite this, the self-reported prevalence of all six drugs under investigation was lower than that reported by the general population. Sixteen per cent of athletes believed that there was a drug of concern in their sport, with ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol being nominated. Knowing other athletes who use illicit drugs, being offered or having the opportunity to use drugs and identifying as a ‘full-time athlete’ were significant predictors of recent drug use. Discussion and Conclusions. The present study found that one-third of the athlete sample had been offered or had the opportunity to use illicit drugs in the past year; despite this, there was low self-reported drug use. Despite media discussion regarding alcohol use in sport, alcohol was nominated as a drug of concern only by a small proportion of athletes, and further research investigating this issue may be warranted.[Dunn M, Thomas JO, Swift W, Burns L. Recreational substance use among elite Australian athletes. Drug Alcohol Rev 2011;30;63–68]

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