Mixed martial arts or MMA fighters have been gaining success and popularity in mainstream sports but along with their fame, many athletes are dealing with serious addictions that are hindering their careers. There have been many positive tests for MMA fighters not only with performance enhancing drugs like steroids but also recreational and prescription drugs.
Countless fights have waged personal battles with substance abuse outside of their sports careers with several ending in death either by accidental overdose or suicide. This disturbing trend has continued to develop over the years as MMA fighters either continue with past addictions as athletes or begin new ones while involved in martial arts.
Both cases often end badly with fighters being busted for steroid or recreational drug use causing them to be suspended, pay hefty fines and even lose their titles.
The Relationship between Drugs and Fighters
For more than a decade, MMA fighters have been caught using various kinds of drugs and many have even struggled with serious addictions. What is the link between substance abuse and martial arts fighters?
One of the reasons that fighters may be more vulnerable to addiction is the fact that there is a relationship between sensation-seeking behavior and drug use. Most experts on the subject of addiction agree that there is a link between thrill seeking and drug abuse because these types of individuals are looking for an adrenaline rush or a feeling of euphoria.
They can get those sensations both from extreme sports and drug use because the two create similar reactions in the brain. Someone who is predisposed to thrill-seeking behavior can then also be very vulnerable to addiction as well.
Since many fighters are constantly dealing with injuries in the ring they are frequently given prescription drugs and opiate painkillers. With a natural predisposition to addiction and easy access to prescription drugs, it is not surprising that MMA fighters such as Bas Rutten, Karo Parysian, James Irvin and Chris Leben have been tested positive for opiates after their fights.
Depression and Substance Abuse for MMA
Another reason that MMA fighters fall victim to addiction problems is the fact that they deal with enormous pressure and stress as professional athletes. There is constant physical demand and mental demand as well as fighters struggle to win as much as they can and are dealing with the high of winning and depression of losing.
Depression and anxiety are common in professional athletes and not just the MMA fighters but in a number of different sports. Many fighters have admitted to dealing with bouts of depression and these problems often lead to substance abuse.
Fighters might try to escape their depression by using recreational drugs or prescription pills to even out their mood. They might feel that they need drugs to stave off depression so that they can keep fighting and stay competitive.
Plenty of athletes, including many in the MMA, also deal with traumatic brain injuries which can lead to symptoms like memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and paranoia. Fighters begin using drugs to cope with the symptoms of brain injuries and continue working.
There are countless MMA fighters that have been tested positive for drugs like steroids, prescription drugs and recreational drugs. There is a continued history of substance abuse in mixed martial arts and it is often related to the particular vulnerability that athletes have in developing addictions.
With the high thrill-seeking of fighters, the many injures they incur and the tendency they have toward having symptoms of depression it is easy to see why addiction has always been an issue with MMA. Although fighters must deal with the repercussions of being tested positive for drug use, it has not ended their relationship to drugs.