College Sports and Painkillers Could Be Dangerous Combination

Is it possible that coaches are going beyond their duty as leaders to now acting as physicians? In the case of USC, it hasn’t gone quite that far, but instead doctors are helping coaches and players exceed their pain medication.

The Bleacher Report posted an article that featured Dave Watson, a former player and coach at USC who had developed a significant addiction to painkillers. Watson admitted to his addiction in court and provided the names of 12 doctors who had been associated with the university.

Watson alleged that much of his addiction was due to the prescription of painkillers by university doctors when he was a player for USC. He alleges that coaches had a say in the amount of medication a player was given in order to ensure the game could go on.

Witnesses involved in the proceedings claim that Watson’s boss, Pete Carroll knew about the drug addiction. When Watson was involved in a car accident and subsequently charged with a DUI, Carroll fired him.

Carroll claimed the firing was due to Watson’s treatment of the players, but Watson believes it is more likely due to his addiction. The clincher in this scenario is that university-associated doctors, including six that worked directly for the team, prescribed painkillers as often as the players needed them.

Watson points to this easy access as his reason for developing an addiction. He did file a civil suit against USC for a wrongful termination. He claims USC and Carroll both knew about his addiction and still continued to allow him to use the university’s Jeep as a coach at USC.

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.