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Eugene Monroe Discusses Painkiller Use, NFL's Drug Policy

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 23, 2016

Dec 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe (60) during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe aired his frustration with the NFL's drug policy, including the league's relationship to opioid substances, in a Twitter discussion. 

Monroe opened his discussion with this take on opioids:

Eugene Monroe @MrEugeneMonroe

To know that opioids are so addictive in nature frightens me to ever take them again

Backing up for just a moment, the NFL has a long history with opioids. John Barr of ESPN's Outside the Lines published a story in which researchers interviewed 644 former NFL players who retired between 1979 and 2006. 

According to Barr's report, citing a study from the Drug and Alcohol Dependence scientific journal, NFL players "misuse opioid pain medications at a rate more than four times that of the general population, and new evidence suggests that is occurring because players misused the painkillers during their NFL careers."

Among the key findings listed in the study, 52 percent of retired players who participated admitted using pain medication while playing, and 71 percent of that group said "they misused the drugs then, and 15 percent of the misusers acknowledged misusing the medication within the past 30 days."

Another key finding was 63 percent of retired players said they received the drugs from a "non-medical source: a teammate, coach, trainer, family member, dealer or the Internet."

Monroe continued to describe the situation he deals with involving opioids:

Eugene Monroe @MrEugeneMonroe

Strongly contemplating forgoing the archaic drug policy of the @NFL and choosing a healthier alternative

Eugene Monroe @MrEugeneMonroe

My health is at risk with every pill!

One reason for Monroe's sudden realization about the dangers of opioids had to do with the death this week of musician Prince:

Eugene Monroe @MrEugeneMonroe

The news of Prince's death was sad enough. Let alone hearing he potentially had an episode with opioids just a week prior

Eugene Monroe @MrEugeneMonroe

Nobody is immune to the dangers of those prescription pain killers

While an official cause of death for Prince has not been made available, TMZ did report the legendary singer was treated for a drug overdose six days before he died on April 21. 

TMZ said in a separate report that Prince was taking percocet, which contains the opioid known as oxycodone, to treat hip pain. 

Monroe's concerns don't seem to be without merit, based on Barr's report. The NFL is always trying to find ways to make the game safer on the field, but as far as protecting athletes' long-term health in between games and after their careers end, it seems there is work to be done.

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