ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Painkillers debate re-opened as ex-Scotland flanker speaks out

BY Stephen Brunsdon  ·  Monday May 4, 2020

Over the weekend, former London Irish and Scotland back row Kieran Low spoke candidly to the Sunday Times Scotland about the end of his playing career, which has, in turn, re-opened the debate over the painkiller culture in rugby.

ADVERTISEMENT

In an interview with journalist Mark Palmer, Low detailed how a concession injury lay-off nearly had devastating consequences, as well as just how much the painkiller culture has become the norm for a professional rugby player.

“I was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs, unconscious and choking on my own vomit,” Low said.

“That day, like every day, I’d been drinking too much booze and taking too many painkillers. I’d taken a lot of Valium [diazepam] and then fallen down the stairs. I fractured my skull and needed surgery.

“It’s a shocking culture that doesn’t get spoken about enough. You come into it as a youngster, see what the older guys are doing, and it becomes the norm for you as well.”

Low said that he had become addicted to certain painkillers and since his retirement from the game at the age of 25, he started to resent the sport.

“Before a game, you get your painkillers, then during the week, if you need anything, there’s always a doctor, always someone who will have something to tide you over. I became pretty heavily addicted to opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines: codeine and Valium [diazepam].”

“I have a lot of resentment, because it’s a culture in rugby that doesn’t get addressed and still goes on. These are pretty heavy-duty drugs, but you think: ‘the doctor is giving it to me so it must be fine. I’ll carry on taking it.’”

How much of a problem does rugby have with painkillers?

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s a much talked about aspect of the game, but one which unfortunately gets quickly brushed under the carpet after a while. The truth of the matter is that, rugby is a contact sport which takes an enormous toll on the body.

Such is the professionalism of the game today, the demand for player availability and the need to field the best side possible has forced players to play while injured. As a result, they have developed a dependency for painkillers to make sure they are able to put the pain to one side in order to play.

Former French international prop Laurent Bénézech detailed his fears about the “over medicalisation of rugby” in his 2014 book Rugby: Where are your Values?. Short of calling out intentional doping in rugby, Bénézech started a nationwide Senate debate in his home country about player welfare and the subsequent addiction to painkillers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments




Related Articles

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Former Edinburgh coach Cockerill blasts Scottish...

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bielle-Biarrey & Penaud stunning long-range...

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Springbok star leaves Ulster Rugby following...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Five of the best tries from the Investec Champions Cup

  • 17 WEEKS AGO

    The dummy that sold the whole of Perth - including the cameraman

  • 17 WEEKS AGO

    Bayonne score 'one of the best tries you'll ever see' in latest match against Exeter

  • 18 WEEKS AGO

    Baloucoune shows Andy Farrell what he's missing as the winger tears through Harlequins defence

  • 30 WEEKS AGO

    Seriously impressive Courtney Lawes compilation released after England player calls time on international career

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Danny care binned for high tackle on Courtney Lawes

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Debate rages on after Maro Itoje sent to bin for high shot

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Fiji Drua player Lomani slapped with ban following elbow attack

  • 16 WEEKS AGO

    The sending off that rocked the Six Nations opener

  • 17 WEEKS AGO

    Wrecking ball beats 10 players to score full length of the pitch try

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Danny care binned for high tackle on Courtney Lawes

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Wild start at Twickenham as Quins pull off another wonder-try

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Tickets now on sale as World XV set to face France in thrilling encounter

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    '60 metres, plus change' - massive drop goal stuns fans

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Referee makes 'tackle of the season' as he gets too close to the action

View All

Funnies

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Nick David unexpectedly shows up to semi final in full kit

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: The worst camera angle in rugby history

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    Louis Rees-Zammit's real reason for NFL move exposed

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    George Ford falls victim to the kickers curse

  • 8 WEEKS AGO

    Awesome scenes as Blitzbok fan throws down at the HSBC SVNS

View All

Amateur

  • 71 WEEKS AGO

    You Won’t See Many Better Than This Silky-Smooth Try From Llandovery RFC

  • 72 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes As Caldy RFC Hand Ealing First Championship Defeat Of The Season

  • 95 WEEKS AGO

    Dubious Score Decides Result Of Rugby's Biggest Schools Fixture

  • 95 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes At School Boys Rugby Match

  • 95 WEEKS AGO

    The Next Dominant Backrow?

View All

Player Features

  • 11 HOURS AGO

    Exclusive: Jack Clement highlights Gloucester's mindset heading into Challenge Cup final

  • 11 HOURS AGO

    Former World Rugby Player of the Year on bench as Champions Cup final squads are announced

  • 12 HOURS AGO

    Ellis Genge responds after being ruled out of summer tour

  • 1 DAY AGO

    A night of celebration as Gallagher Premiership award winners revealed

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Springbok star signs long term deal with the DHL Stormers

View All