Menu Close

Rehab Blog

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Athletes May Use Cocaine to Gain an Edge in Their Sport

Cocaine, which is derived from the coca plant,[1] has a long history of use for gaining an athletic edge. The Incan culture of South America regularly used coca leaves to give them extra energy as they made their way through the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. Incan runners who would sprint many miles between mountain towns to deliver important messages would carry purses filled with coca leaves to give them the energy and endurance needed to complete their job as quickly as possible.[2]

In the modern age, cocaine may not be the drug that pops to mind when one thinks of performance-enhancing drugs, but some athletes mistakenly use it for just that purpose. For that reason, the drug is banned in both professional and amateur sports in order to safeguard the health of the athlete and the integrity of the sport.

There have been plenty of top-notch professional athletes who have been suspended from their sport for using cocaine, including the following:

  • Dwight Gooden – major league baseball player
  • Martina Hinges – tennis player once ranked #1 in the world
  • Lawrence Taylor – NFL football player[3]
  • Darryl Strawberry – major league baseball player

Does Cocaine Function as a Performance-Enhancing Drug in Reality?

AthleteNo matter how it is abused (e.g., snorting, smoking or injecting) most of the cocaine impacts the brain. Its use results in a euphoria that only lasts five to 15 minutes. Studies that have analyzed how cocaine impacts athletic abilities have actually determined the drug decreases the user’s performance.

This is because cocaine makes the user feel so good, they perceive everything around them in a better light, including their own abilities.

Researchers found cocaine to diminish an athlete’s strength, endurance and overall performance, despite the user’s distorted perception that they were improving. It also impaired the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature.

What Health Risks Do Athletes Face From Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine has a plethora of negative health effects but in athletes, some of these may be enhanced because of strenuous athletic activity. Cocaine taxes the cardiovascular system and during physical exercise may cause heart arrhythmias or cardiac arrest.

Additional health problems include the following:

  • Perforation of nasal tissue
  • Tremors
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Vision problems
  • Death[4]
If you or someone you love is abusing cocaine, contact us today at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline, 760.548.4032. We can provide you with a holistic rehab program that treats the mind as well as the body. Whether you are a serious athlete or not, we offer programs that can be tailored to your needs. Don’t waste another day on addiction. Pick up the phone, and get one step closer to a full recovery.