I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

2022 Dec 23

Sci Rep



Substance availability and use in ex-professional ice hockey enforcers.



Some ex-professional ice hockey enforcers (players whose primary role was fighting) have experienced negative health outcomes following their careers including substance use. Some have suggested that negative post-career outcomes following a career in contact sport relate specifically to neurotrauma. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ex-professional ice hockey enforcers were negatively impacted by substance use during and/or following their careers. It was hypothesised that given their role in the sport, significant exposure to injury (including concussions) occurred, leading to challenges post-career including substance use. This study utilises a mixed methods quantitative and qualitative approach with one-on-one semi-structured interviews and questions related to substance use. This hypothesis for this study was not supported. Participants in this study reported low levels of substance use post-career. Patterns of substance use during career varied by era with a change in use from alcohol and over-the-counter stimulants to opioids, sleep aids, and anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) estimated to occur near the mid to late 1990s. Four participants described patterns of excessive alcohol use during their careers. Stimulant use was prevalent in ice hockey pre-mid-1990s. The use of prescription opioids and sleep aids was reportedly rare before the mid to late 1990s, but eventually became easily attainable via team medical staff and prescription sharing. Two participants from the later era also reported use of AAS. This sample of ex-professional hockey enforcers experienced a significant number of concussions, continue to have challenges with chronic pain, and were exposed to several unique stressors during their careers, the effects of which may have varied based upon how the role was viewed. A combination of these factors may have resulted in substance use in some of these athletes during, but not following their careers.