Men’s lacrosse players were the biggest illicit drug users among athletes competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 23 sanctioned sports, according to a survey by the governing body.
They led all other sports in the use of amphetamines, anabolic steroids, cocaine, marijuana and narcotics, according to the NCAA’s quadrennial survey, which included 20,474 responses from athletes for the 2009 school year.
The athletes were asked to voluntarily fill out forms anonymously, then mail them in postage-paid envelopes to a company that scanned them and put the answers into a database. The report offered no comparison with drug use in either the general population or college population as a whole.
Since the last survey in 2005, college athletes have increased their use of drugs including alcohol (83.1 percent, up from 77.5 percent), cigarettes (15.5 percent from 14.6 percent), marijuana (22.6 percent from 21.2 percent) and spit tobacco (17.4 percent from 15.7 percent).
The use of amphetamines has fallen to 3.7 percent from 4.2 percent and steroid use has decreased to 0.4 percent from 1.1 percent, according to the survey.
Men’s lacrosse players led the way in drug use by a wide margin among specific teams.
The survey found 48.5 percent of lacrosse players used marijuana, ahead of soccer players at 29.4 percent and wrestlers at 27.7 percent. Football players were sixth, at 26.7 percent, and men’s basketball players were ninth at 22 percent.
Meanwhile, 9.7 percent of lacrosse players said they used cocaine compared to 3.8 percent of ice hockey players and 3.7 percent of wrestlers. Football players were sixth, at 2.3 percent, and men’s basketball players 10th at 1.2 percent.
Lacrosse players reported the most narcotics use, with 10.8 percent claiming they used them in the previous year, ahead of wrestlers at 6 percent and football players at 4 percent. Men’s basketball players were 10th at 1.6 percent.
Alcohol use by lacrosse players (95.0 percent) was topped by ice hockey players (95.5 percent), with golfers third at 90.9 percent. Football players were ninth at 82.9 percent and men’s basketball players 10th at 74.5 percent.
Lacrosse players finished second to golfers in the use of cigarettes, with 32.2 percent saying they had smoked in the previous 12 months, compared to 33.3 percent of golfers. Tennis finished third at 22.6 percent.