National collegiate athletic association division I athletes' use of nonprescription medication

Sports Health. 2011 Jan;3(1):25-8. doi: 10.1177/1941738110387515.


Background: Athletes are known to use over-the-counter pain medication. However, the frequency of such use among National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A football athletes is unknown.

Hypothesis: NCAA Division I-A football athletes who use nonprescription analgesics for pain misuse these medications.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: The football players (N, 144) who met the criteria and agreed to participate were from 8 NCAA Division I-A schools. The participants were administered the Over the Counter Drug Screen for Athletes, which measures attitudes toward the use of a spectrum of substances.

Results: Among football athletes surveyed who took nonprescription analgesics for football-related pain, 37% reported taking more than the recommended dose. This was slightly higher than the 28% of players who stated they have not taken nonprescription analgesics for football-related pain. Thirty-four percent of all athletes reported using more than the recommended dose of nonprescription analgesics. Athletes who purchased their own nonprescription analgesics communicated poorly regarding nonprescription analgesics use. Those lacking knowledge about nonprescription analgesics and those using nonprescription analgesics in anticipation of pain or to avoid missing a practice or game were most likely to misuse nonprescription analgesics.

Conclusion: NCAA Division I-A football athletes who use nonprescription analgesics for athletic competition do not misuse nonprescription analgesics.

Keywords: abuse; analgesics; football-related pain; nonprescription; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.