Drug & Alcohol Use

When studying to achieve academic goals or training to reach elite levels, every choice impacts success. Individuals are free to choose when they are on their own but student-athletes should be aware of the positive and negative impacts of their choices so they can make informed decisions.

Coaches must model appropriate behaviour and monitor players in order to protect the health – first and foremost – and performance of the players on the team. In order to establish rules during the season or at a training camp, coaches must exemplify their values and build relationships with the players that they are coaching.

Alcohol has become a major influence in the lives of today’s youths. Those who have three to four drinks at least once per week will experience reduced performance of both mind and bodies. Even high school athletes consume excessive amounts of alcohol and can suffer a twenty to thirty percent loss in performance. Far too many collegiate athletes drink as a coping skill because of the tough school, training, and competition schedule.

Reasons NOT to Drink

  • It is illegal for minors (under 19 in Canada, under 21 in the United States to consume alcohol.  It is illegal to procure alcohol for a minor or sell alcohol to a minor.  Therefore, high school athletes should not be drinking in the first place.
  • Frequent drinking is expensive.
  • Alcohol impairs physical and mental performance (3 to 4 drinks).
  • Alcohol is high in carbohydrates without the nutritional benefits.

Advice for Coaches

  • This is one area were coaches must follow the first tenet of leadership and model the way for players.
  • All coaches should be mindful of decreased performance and other symptoms of alcohol use.

Performance Loss

  • The total performance loss by a high school player may be 20-30%
Performance Factor Loss Due to Regular Alcohol Use
Skill Development Alcohol reduces mental concentration and the accuracy of skill performance
Strength Explosive power and strength are reduced
Strength Endurance
  • 6.96% reduction
Speed Reaction time and acceleration in the first ten and twenty metres are reduced
Speed Endurance
  • 6.2% reduction
Muscle Repair
  • 63% reduction
Human Growth Hormone
  • 70% reduction
Testosterone Male drinkers may have the same levels as female athletes

Recovery & Regeneration

  • Drinking increases the time needed to recover from a workout or game.
  • Alcohol use can cancel the R.E.M. sleep (1½ to 2½ hours) needed for the brain to recover.
  • Alcohol also disrupts the critical recovery and regeneration that occurs immediately after physical activity.

Residual Effects

  • The effects of alcohol use can last up to ninety-six hours (four days)
    • Effects include: Raised blood pressure and heart rate, increased risk of injury (twice that of non-drinkers), and cortisol production (One drunk occasion equals two weeks lost training days)
    • Fatigue is increased and athletes become tired at an accelerated rate.
  • Brain activity is still reduced more than a year after quitting alcohol

Discuss Standards with Collegiate Teams

  • Players and coaches should all learn about the perils of alcohol use and decide on team standards, with consequences.
  • Many collegiate athletes drink as a coping mechanism to deal with the exhaustion of practices and games and the pressure of school; 75% of N.C.A.A. Men’s Basketball players identify themselves as drinkers.

List of Resources