The next few weeks will witness gripping entertainment at the African Cup of Nations where Zimbabwe is taking part, and very soon our women’s netball team will be at the World Cup in Europe, with the rugby team also lining up a busy programme.
These and other sports activities exert a lot of pressure on the athletes that seek to outdo others by sometimes going beyond the legal limits. At most of these tournaments organisers periodically run random tests to check if athletes are complying with the rules and using drugs to enhance their performance.
Sports makes physical and mental demands on your body. Recreational drugs are also demanding on you, whether you want them to or not they affect your mind and body.
When you are active during sports your body adapts to provide you with the support you need, such as increasing the rate your heart pumps blood and supplies oxygen to your muscles. Your brain works to maintain body temperature, co-ordinate your movement and make you alert.
Depressants such as cannabis (mbanje), alcohol and opiates, slow down your breathing, mbanje reduces your lung capacity, making it harder to get the oxygen your muscles need during sport.
Opiates such as heroin and codeine, slow down your breathing and narrow the path of your air ways. This makes it harder to breathe and reduces your breathing at a time when your body needs extra oxygen.
Stimulant drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and speed increase your heart rate and put undue stress on your heart also included here are the energy drinks, they can cause heart attack and abnormal heart rhythm.
Depressants such as alcohol slow down your heart rate, meaning less oxygen — crich blood reaches your muscles.
The last thing you want during sports is to disrupt your co-ordination and relax your muscles. Depressants such as mbanje reduce your motor activity, such that it is hard to co-ordinate your movement during sport.
Stimulants increase your movement so you are most likely to injure yourself. Cocaine at higher doses acts as an anaesthetic, so you can not feel the pain and continue to play on after an injury causing more damage.
Depressants like cannabis, alcohol and opiates affect your alertness and concentration, so you are slower to react.
Stimulants such as cocaine, ecstasy, high caffeine energy drinks can make you irritable and restless — making you less focused on the game.
Hallucinogens like mbanje can play havoc with your senses, they affect your sight and sound and may disrupt your performance. Stimulants such as cocaine can keep you awake, so that you do not get rest and this affects your performance.
They also decrease your appetite and at higher doses they make you irritable and aggressive, they also cause blood vessels in the brain to rupture leading to convulsions. Keep away from drugs and stay safe. You can be a successful sportsperson and still be clean.
νMthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist.
For more information contact 00263772399734 or email [email protected]