NHL Drug Use

Hayden See, Reporter

Drug use in the National Hockey League has become more prevalent.

As detailed in a feature story on The Athletic, the National Hockey League has a bit of a drug issue on their hands. Recreational drug use has become more wide spread across the country, so has it in the National Hockey League. “A 2016 survey on National Drug Use and Health, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, revealed that the number of young Americans who tried cocaine for the first time took a massive jump, increasing 61 percent from 2013 to 2015,” according to The Athletic. Within their testing guidelines, only performance enhancing drugs are tested for and punished for. However, with the use of recreational drugs, most notably cocaine, up considerably, the NHL has instituted new random drug tests.

“Athletes are members of the population too. They’re not free of issues,” senior Harrison Riebow said.

With the new system, if a player tests positive for recreational drugs, they will be required to go to rehabilitation through the league. Anonymity is maintained through the program, and no fines or suspensions are dolled out in response to a positive test. However, if a player fails to follow the rehabilitation, fines and suspensions will ensue. 

“The system seems great to help drug users [address]  the issue,” senior Blake Ebner said.

The Arizona Coyotes team brought in an employee to work right alongside the players who had drug use issues. His role was to assist the athletes who struggled with recreational drugs. A big rule that he followed was dealing with the players independent of the front office and coaching staff; he would only make management aware of a players’ issues if they were a danger to himself or others, according to The Athletic. With the anonymity of the role, it’s hard to determine how successful it has been.

“Every team should have someone like that who helps the players,” senior Sophia Giltner said.

The NHL continues to put effort forth to limit drug use among its players.