I remember the first time I walked into a high-end gym in a fancy neighborhood. The sales pitch was minimal and the transaction went quickly followed by a firm handshake. I was looking to escape daily pressures and for a sense of belonging to a group. It would not take long before I was addicted. That gym was a newly built facility in my school and the addiction was to pain killers. I was 13 years old. I would overdose twice before reaching high school.
My story is far too common. Ninety percent of prescription drug addiction starts between the ages of 12 and 18 years old and nearly one in five teens has already abused a prescription pain killer equating to 4.2 Million teens. With most public schools either significantly reducing the amount of time spent on health education, or eliminating health education all together, most don’t realize the dangers from prescription abuse and one of the many reasons we the abuse shows no signs of improvement. In 2016, the cost of prescription drug misuse in the U.S. exceeded $443 billion each year. Ninety-seven percent of the $443 billion was spent on the consequences from the abuse with only 3% spent on prevention.
After decades of working executive level positions in fortune 1000 companies, I found myself 32 years old, exhausted, stressed and out of shape. I entered a different type of gym. I received a different sales pitch than decades earlier yet once again became addicted. This time to fitness. Unlike the high I had sought from pills, my addiction to fitness is under my control. This is of little surprise as some of the brain regions effected by commonly misused drugs are the same regions impacted by exercise.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to the former Surgeon General of the United States discuss the increased risk factors to society of substance misuse including the role of stress, anxiety, and the role the “lifestyle” plays, including lack of exercise. that lifestyle practice has become a major topic as the search to find a solution reversing the current trend is discussed.
Sixty percent of all addicted have a medical condition defined as a dual diagnosis disorder or co-occurring disorder. Dual diagnosis means the addict also suffers from an additional mental disorder in addition to their addiction disorder. For example, alcoholics often also suffer from symptoms of depression and opioid addicts often also suffer from a type of anxiety disorder (in many cases PTSD).
In the most recent survey of the American Psychological Associations, teens are experiencing as much stress as adults, in and some cases more, leading to feelings of depression and loss of appetite. Adult stress levels are also on the rise with only one in ten saying they’re willing to seek professional support to address the issues. The remaining 90% become prime candidates for attempting self-medication thus dramatically increasing their chances of becoming future addicts.
As fitness professionals, it is imperative we not only remember our purpose but act on “why we do what we do.” Our top priority must remain to use our solutions to better the lives of others in every community in which we operate. Having a proven solution to help an epidemic, it is our responsibility to expose that solution and inspire the community to participate. If we choose not to support the cause, and we continue to ignore the devastation, this epidemic will continue to spread. The consequences to all will be catastrophic.
Live Purple, A CAUSE FOR FITNESS, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our team has decades of experience and knowledge of all aspects of the fitness industry allowing us to provide you the tools and solutions to impact the addiction, the mental health and the obesity epidemics. Most programs currently offered were created specifically for one of the founders own multi-club fitness companies. Each program is designed from inception to be mutually beneficial, delivering both impact to the community and increasing new business resulting from the cause marketing and brand awareness benefits. Live Purple is the ideal cause-relationship solution for the health and fitness industry.
Together we can fulfill our responsibility as professionals and help end this epidemic. To learn how you can have a greater impact, please contact us at email@example.com. We will have one of our Impact Teammates contact you immediately.
VP of Research & Education | Co-founder,