facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

"Post-Olympics Let-Down" May Trigger Addiction

Olympians "dependent on exercise" may face depression and substance abuse when the games are over.

Image: 

What now? Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

08/02/12

| Share

Winning Olympic gold may trigger depression and addiction, according to a new study. Past research has found intensive exercise can be as addictive as heroin, which is why athletes with such demanding training often develop a dependence. A third of elite athletes have an "unhealthy preoccupation" with training, scientists in Melbourne found—and for many athletes, stopping exercise can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as drug-like withdrawal symptoms. “Exercise can be like a pill,” says David Bentley, a triathlete who teaches exercise physiology at the University of Adelaide. “It does similar things chemically to a number of different systems in the body, and if you exercise all the time, your body will change almost like it does in response to some pharmacological interventions.”

The findings shed light on why Olympic athletes may be more prone to eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide than the rest of the general population and may need help adjusting to life when the games are over. “We call it the post-Olympics let-down," says Nicole Detling, a sport psychology consultant for the US Speed Skating team and the US Ski and Snowboard Association. She notes that the time period following retirement can be psychologically painful, and can drive many athletes in to clinical depression. “A lot of retired athletes report fairly significant mental health concerns and an increased level of substance dependence,” says Frances Quirk, co-editor-in-chief of the journal Performance Enhancement & Health. “There are other factors that contribute to that in terms of pressure, isolation and competition, but there is a biological story.”

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv