Pushing the athletic envelope | AspenTimes.com

Pushing the athletic envelope

Just six weeks after serving as a consultant to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Dr. Bill Beacham will be in Aspen on Thursday to talk about the ups and downs of performance enhancing drugs.

In a recent interview, Dr. Beacham reported that no U.S. athletes flunked a drug test during the recent Olympics in Salt Lake City, adding that new drugs are constantly being formulated to escape detection.

Dr. Beacham is the executive director of the Center for Drug Free Communities in Irvine, Calif., a professor at the University of California and is California board-certified in the treatment of addictive disorders. He specializes in treating athletes, and has been a consultant to the Major League Baseball Players Association and the NCAA Conference.

During his talk, “Adolescents and Alchemy: Use and Abuse of Performance Enhancing Drugs,” Dr. Beacham will talk about a range of performance enhancing drugs, including their physical and psychological effects. His lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Given Institute, at 100 E. Francis Street in Aspen. Light refreshments will be served at 5 p.m.

“A lot of the drugs we’re talking about are very powerful drugs and unfortunately, many athletes don’t understand the consequences of using them,” said Dr. Beacham. “Also, athletes often obtain drugs from street dealers, and you just don’t know what you’re getting.”

Steroids are among the most commonly used performance enhancing drugs, and can lead to hypertension, as well as liver and kidney failure. Also, when muscle mass is abnormally and rapidly increased, the muscle can literally pull weaker tendons and ligaments from the bone, resulting in serious injuries.

Steroids can also be psychologically addictive, especially for those with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Steroid abuse can lead to anxiety, suicidal thoughts, irritability and even violent behavior, commonly known as “‘roid rages.”

The variety of drugs that athletes take in an effort to run faster, jump higher and get stronger might be surprising to some. Dr. Beacham said the use of methamphetamines – the drug manufactured in “meth” labs across the country – “is more common than we care to believe.”

Even marijuana is used by a select group of athletes. Olympian archers and target shooters typically shoot between heartbeats to minimize the tremor that a heartbeat causes in the body. Marijuana lowers blood pressure, and lowers the level of these tremors.

In addition to talking about the use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs, Dr. Beacham will also discuss how diet and nutrition can achieve many of the same results for athletes in training.

For more information, call 544-9758; or visit the Web site at http://www.giveninstitutute.org.

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