Josh Hamilton is currently the poster child for recovering addicts and his recent fall has brought attention to addiction and how clubs handle those addictions to the forefront again.
The Texas Rangers have done a lot to help Hamilton on his way to recovery and helping him stay clean. During the season, Hamilton is kept under strong surveillance and he has regular drug tests, much more than the average player, to make sure he doesn't relapse.
The UFC serves as another case in which leagues have had to approach drug problems. Recently, fighter Chris Leben was suspended for a year for the use of Oxycodone. Despite the ban, the UFC was clear in its intent to help the fighter if he needs professional help.
While those two instances seem to illustrate the difficulty in keeping addiction under control, it remains in the best financial interests of all involved to make sure athletes are getting the help they need.
For Hamilton, though, he now finds himself in the awkward position of having a relapse during contract talks. More than ever, the club must make the difficult decision of seeing if the athlete is worth the added burden he brings because of his addiction.
One way in which clubs continue to fall short is in the regard, however, is in regards to painkillers, which are often abused by athletes in sports like football.
Like most companies, leagues offer to help their employees deal with these problems (like Michael Beasley entering rehab for his marijuana use), although at times, it comes off more as a PR move than an honest understanding of the mechanisms of addiction.
For many, it was easier to mock Ricky Williams for his marijuana use rather than look into the problems that were led the former NFL star to seek answers. The quest for those answers not only helped lead Williams to marijuana use but eventually to almost every corner of the world.
Instead of prosecuting simple use of illegal substances, performance-enhancing or not, leagues need to dig deeper into the problems resulting in drug use.
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