What Kind of Drug Rehab Programs Does the NBA Have for its Players?
The National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA, has had a long and storied history. From Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving to Michael Jordan and LeBron James, the league has been filled with superstars capable of almost superhuman feats. However, alongside every superstar, there have been others who have fallen by the wayside due to illegal drug use. After the death of Len Bias from a Cocaine overdose in 1986, the league has put into place a number of protocols to catch players using illegal drugs. For those who are caught, there are policies that were designed to help them find appropriate drug rehab programs to help them kick the habit and be able to resume playing the game they love.
Players are subject to four random tests during the season and two random tests in the off-season. Players who test positive for drug use face a progressive series of penalties, depending upon the type of drug used. The league does have a protocol in place that lets a player turn themselves in voluntarily in order to seek treatment and receive a lesser punishment. First-time offenders receive a 20-game suspension while a second failed-test puts a player on the bench for 45 games and a third failure results in banishment from the league. However, drugs considered to be more dangerous and addictive, such as Cocaine, LSD, Heroin and others can result in an automatic banishment from the league. When this is the case, a player may apply for reinstatement after sitting out for one year. If a player is found to be using Marijuana, a first failed-test results in drug rehab programs; a second failed-test results in drug rehab programs and a fine; and a third failed-test results in a five-game suspension.
Players who are required to seek treatment have many options available to them through the league. One of the most successful drug rehab programs is run by former NBA player John Lucas, who found his storied career cut short due to drug addiction. However, rather than succumb to his addiction, Lucas got himself clean and founded the John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center in Houston, TX. Working very closely with the NBA, the facility has helped treat a number of former and current NBA players for their addictions, often producing very good results. Along with helping players overcome their drug addictions, Lucas’ facility has also become a life-coaching center for players. Lucas, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other league officials and players believe the way to attack the drug problem in the league is by using a two-fold approach. Along with the standard drug rehab programs treatment, Lucas has started a program helping players better understand the physical and mental aspects of being a professional basketball player.
NBA players also have the option of choosing their own drug rehab programs, but many feel attending the Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center gives them the best possible chance to get clean and return to their playing careers. Though the league still admits it has much work to do regarding drug testing and treatment, it has been looked upon as perhaps the best model for drug treatment among the professional sports leagues in America. If you or a loved one believe that drugs may be interfering with a potential sports career or otherwise putting someone at risk, seek help immediately. Talk with a physician, seek the advice of a minister or simply call a drug-addiction hotline to speak with someone who truly understands the problem. By having the courage to talk today, tomorrow can be the first day on the road to your successful recovery.