Studies Show Dangerous Interactions Between Prescription Drugs and OTC Supplements
Today’s athletes run a greater risk with supplements and prescription drugs than ever witnessed before, and the dangers can be especially bad for kids. A recent USA Today story examines this growing problem, and it is one that I also have direct experience with through my professional clinical relationships with athletes.
We have evolved (for better or for worse) over the last couple of decades from a culture that rarely used prescription drugs and supplements, to a drug-dependent society that regularly includes anti-depressants, psycho-stimulants for ADHD, and narcotics for pain relief. When you add popular (yet rarely FDA approved) supplements including creatine, post-workout recovery drinks, steroids, and HGH, the interactions can lead to host of complications, including internal bleeding, reduced effectiveness of infection-reducing drugs, and even death.
Increasingly more kids today are choosing to use sport supplements (often unsupervised), and many are placed on pharmaceutical drugs to help with ADHD, depression, anxiety, and to control pain. Future studies will examine the impact of these interactions and compare to previous generations of kids who likely used nothing stronger than aspirin to address pain.
What you can do to help:
- Be active and do your homework. These days there are countless credible webpages to use when gauging the safety and effectiveness of various prescription drugs and supplements. Get involved and read up on any drug or performance supplement your child might be considering using, and pay special attention to bigger problems that sometimes evolve over time, including long-term dependency and dangerous side effects.
- Ask your doctor questions and examine all options. Ask your doctor lots and lots of questions and become a critical consumer when it comes to prescription pharmaceutical drugs. Ask about the potential long-term consequences, side effects, and all the other non-drug options that can help. For example, does your child need to immediately be placed on a narcotic pain reliever, or would other non-narcotic approaches be effective and safer? Similarly, if your child is active, does that mean he needs to be placed on a psycho-stimulant drug, or would behavioral approaches work just as well, if not better?
- Scrutinize sport supplements. While sport supplements promise big results, it is also true that the placebo effect is often at play (meaning kids who use supplements almost always work out hard, too). In fact, for the vast majority of kids a healthy diet and exercise is the best (and safest) way to maximize athletic performance.
There is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to see studies emerge in the coming years warning us of all the dangerous interactions between prescription drugs and sport supplements. Do your part by being involved, asking questions, and closely monitoring your child’s sport training regimens and routines and make sure they are healthy and safe.