Parker: Rugby League players at serious risk of painkiller addiction

In a short short film on the BBC One Show, former Bradford and Warrington forward Rob Parker says that Rugby League players are at serious risk of becoming addicted to painkillers.

Parker, who played in Super League for 15 years and won every domestic honour, suffered several serious injuries in his career including a fractured skull, fractured cheekbone and plates in his jaw and hand.

This led to him taking Tramadol, a strong opiate based prescription painkiller, as he tried to mask the pain of these shattering injuries.

“I was determined to keep playing, so I carried on training and using Tramadol to get over my injuries and that’s where the addiction started to come in,” Parker said.

“I was hooked for five years, until in 2013 I forced myself to go cold turkey. What followed was a month of stomach cramps, sweats and complete exhaustion.”

With each Rugby League tackle likened to a 30mph car crash, it’s no wonder that players are struggling to cope as their bodies are constantly put through the pain barrier.

Sporting Chance say that around 80 current and retired players use the charity every year to seek help with painkiller addiction, and Parker believes more needs to be done.

“There was always a culture within the sport that people used to take prescription drugs to help them wind down from a game and that’s where the use of the drug became wrong.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about within our sport. I care about the sport which is why I want the players and clubs to be more honest and open about the use and abuse of painkillers.”

Watch the full clip on the BBC One Show by clicking here.