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Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine use highest among college lacrosse players in new NCAA study

This doesn’t shine a good light on the sport.

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The NCAA does plenty of research studies every year. You probably see their studies on sport participation every Spring, with positive results for lacrosse for both men’s and women’s versions.

A new study came out on substance use, using data from 2017. According to the NCAA, the study shows that college athletes continue to make healthier decisions compared to the general student body.

A little more about the study:

The Student-Athlete Substance Use Survey has been conducted every four years since 1985 to assess the health and well-being trends among student-athletes. The report helps inform NCAA policy-makers with both current and historical information concerning levels of student-athlete drug and alcohol use. The study also analyzes why student-athletes do or do not use specific substances, when they started to use drugs, and their attitudes regarding drug use and drug testing.

The latest survey, based on the responses of approximately 23,000 student-athletes in all three divisions, indicates college athletes are using marijuana and amphetamines at a lower rate than the nonathlete college population. The percentage of student-athletes who reported drinking alcohol in the last year also showed a slight decrease from the previous survey in 2013, continuing a trend of a reduction in binge drinking since 2009. The most recent study also shows a significant decrease in the use of narcotic pain medication use with a prescription.

Alright, so that’s really good! Marijuana and amphetamines are lower than non-athletes, and drinking is down.

But compared to athletes from other sports, lacrosse still tops most drug and alcohol use.

Let’s start with alcohol, which is common among house parties:

Lacrosse tops both men’s and women’s genders for binge drinking. There’s a slighter larger gap between lacrosse and hockey on the men’s side than there is on the women’s side. But for the men, 69% of lacrosse players across all three divisions drink at least five or more beverages. That’s a little eye raising.

Let’s move on to marijuana:

Again, men’s and women’s lacrosse tops this category and by a considerable amount, especially for the men. Half of them self-reported using the drug. It is important to note that 77% of total marijuana users did it for social reasons, while 19% of them used it for pain management. So the results could be a little blurry.

Men’s lacrosse also tops narcotic pain medication use. Narcotics include opioids, such as codeine and oxycodone. Women’s lacrosse is fourth at 12%.

Only 10% of men’s lacrosse players report using spit tobacco on a daily basis. That’s fourth behind ice hockey and baseball.

Here’s some charts from the NCAA’s study to provide more detail:

The real surprise comes in the illicit drug section of the study. And lacrosse comes in as the sport that uses the most cocaine in both men’s and women’s versions.

22% of men’s lacrosse players is insanely high. To compare with other sports, via the NCAA’s study:

Here’s some other charts highlighting amphetamine and anabolic steroid use, courtesy of the NCAA’s study:

Lacrosse is again the highest across both genders in amphetamine use.

The study also provided some data by Division. We’ll only show the Division I charts, courtesy of the NCAA’s study:

In Division I, men’s lacrosse blows out the other sports in terms of cigarette, cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamine use. That’s not good.

I highly recommend you check out the entire study the NCAA did, as well as a summary of their findings. There’s plenty more charts to look at, including a breakdown of drug use by class and race/ethnicity.