“Players are going to find some way to deal with the pain,” says former Chicago Bull Jay Williams in a video and essay in The Players’ Tribune.
There’s a new awareness of the health problems facing professional athletes. They have a job which is bound to take a physical toll on their body and pressured by their employers and fans to get back in the court or on the field as soon as possible after an injury. That leads them to turn to quick fix drugs like painkillers, which might do the trick but which also hold their own severe health risks.
One solution to some of these players’ health problems might be marijuana, but, although half the country’s states allow that practice to one degree or another, major sports organizations like the NFL and NBA do not. Now players are speaking out against the hypocrisy.
Williams is decrying what he sees as a “double standard” the NBA uses for drug policies, favoring harmful and addictive substances like painkillers over marijuana. After being injured in a motorcycle accident early in his career, Williams was sucked into a cycle of opioid abuse.
“My thing is if they’re prescribing OxyContin, if they’re prescribing Ibuprofen, if they’re prescribing Percocet, how come you can’t say, ‘I’m going to take a hit of marijuana before I go to be?’ That probably reduces the amount of inflammation that you have more than anything and it can relax you for your anxiety,” Williams says.
And WIlliams is far from alone in his plight. The one time point guard says many other athletes end up in a similar pickle, with only one option to turn to if they’re faced with injury during their career.
“Our culture is progressive about a lot of things, but in some corners, marijuana is still vilified and misunderstood,” he writes. “I believe that marijuana, which many experts agree is less addictive and less prone to overdose than pain meds like OxyContin, must be an integral part of the conversation about how we treat pain in our everyday lives.”