When we think of drugs of abuse in mixed martial arts, or any sport for that matter, we usually focus on steroids. However, there’s seems to be an alarming trend of fighters abusing a different kind of drug — prescription meds. Karo Parisyan and Paulo Filho’s careers have taken a turn for the worse because of them, and if it wasn’t for James Irvin getting caught, he says his career was headed in the same direction.
“The Anderson Silva fight, I have 25 stitches across my cheek from when he blasted me,” the mixed martial arts fighter told The Canadian Press. “Every day when I look in the mirror, I have a clear reminder of what those drugs did to me and what lies ahead of me if I was ever to start using that garbage ever again.”
“It wasn’t until a time that I just stopped taking them that I realized I needed them just to keep on functioning,” he said. “At that time I had become an addict and I was hooked on them.
“I never even heard the word withdrawal,” he added. “I didn’t know what withdrawals were. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know to speak to a doctor about it. I took it the wrong way, kind of the cowardly path. I just kept on using the prescription drugs, but it’s a tough push-pull kind of thing in my line of sport. Injuries are a common thing, it’s something you’re always dealing with. And when you have bad ones, sometimes you have to take those medications.”
Irvin (14-5 with one no contest) now says the positive drug test was a blessing in disguise. He had become trapped.
“I needed to get caught,” he said. “I needed to get in trouble for it and wake me up and get off of those things.”
“Since then, since I’ve had that suspension, (since) I’ve been drug-free, it’s been the happiest time of my entire life. I can honestly say that,” he added. “A lot of people throw that around, but I can tell you (it’s true) with my family, with my wife, my training. I’ve found a new love in training again, it’s something that I had lost while using those prescription drugs and I just feel like a new person.”
Unfortunately in this sport, injuries are essentially unavoidable, and with those comes legal prescriptions for pain medication. No one ever sets out to get hooked on them, but it happens. Hopefully other fighters will learn from their peers like Irvin that just because a doctor provides them doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely dangerous if you abuse them.