SHE Foundation - "la Caixa" Foundation
Sport reduces the risk of addiction in adolescence


Doing some kind of sport is good for everyone, but even more so for adolescents, because they are going through a stage of enormous physical and emotional change. Using sport as exercise not only contributes to the development of the body but has also been proven to act as a deterrent to taking up harmful habits such as the consumption of tobacco, alcohol or other even more harmful substances.

When your son or daughter reaches the age when someone offers him or her a cigarette, some alcohol or a joint, it is very important for him or her to be clear in their mind, but it also helps if they do not go to places where these practices take place. If ‘opportunity makes the thief’, limiting the opportunities is also a good option. According to statistics, boys and girls who usually spend much of their free time doing sport have significantly lower consumption levels of the three most heavily used drugs in our society – tobacco, alcohol and marihuana – in comparison with their more sedentary friends.

The time spent training and the type of sport also have an influence on the possibilities of becoming addicted

The consumption of toxic substances is lower in boys and girls who start doing sport before they reach fourteen. Likewise, weekly training time also acts in their favour, because the more hours they spend training, the less contact they have with harmful substances. And they usually do not smoke or drink alcohol either and, if they do, it is only occasionally or in much smaller quantities than young people who do not do sport. However, there is not much difference between the habits of youngsters who only train a little – 1 or 2 hours a week – and those of sedentary youngsters. It can be noted from this that commitment and dedication to sport have a direct relationship with the prevention of drug consumption.

Less contact with these substances is also closely related to the kind of sport practiced and it is interesting to note that young people who are members of individual sports federations such as athletics and swimming consume less.

Sporting values contribute to character development and help develop responsible decision making.

Seneca used to say that the part of our body we exercise most will be the healthiest. But we should not forget that, as well as the physical side, the regular practice of any sport helps adolescents learn the importance of discipline, perseverance and effort. It also promotes a feeling of competitiveness that, if understood properly, can be very beneficial in their life. Boys and girls learn to enjoy their victories and to grow strong from their defeats. In any case, it is important our children receive objective information on drugs and risk taking behaviour, but equally important that they have sufficient emotional resources to tackle difficult situations.

If sport keeps them away from drugs, why do some sportsmen and women take drugs?

This is one of the contradictions of sport when they reach the elite levels. Drug taking is ethically reprehensible, both in sport and in life in general. But we have to think about how everything depends on the context, and when we are talking about winning at any cost, of success, victory and spectacle, sport is completely transformed and loses its main value as an educational instrument for wellbeing. We would probably have to look for the causes of this transformation, but that is another matter…

Sources: La cocina de la salud (Healthy Cooking, in Spanish) published by Planeta; Inteligencia deportiva (Sporting Intelligence, in Spanish) published by Plataforma Editorial; Guía de salud y deporte (Guide to Health and Sport, in Spanish) website.