The autopsy results for former Tennessee than Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas show that he died from having multiple drugs in his system. According to WVLT-TV in Knoxville, a medical examiner told the station that Douglas had Methadone and Diazepam in his system. The actual autopsy report has not been released as of this morning.
The former freshman All-American died in May after attending a party in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Police say additional drugs were used at the party.
According to the National Library of Medicine, Methadone “is used to relieve moderate to severe pain that has not been relieved by non-narcotic pain relievers. It also is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs in order to stop taking or continue not taking the drugs.”
Methadone is sometimes used as means of weening people off of Oxycontin, a highly addictive pain killer often prescribed to college athletes.
The site also says Diazepam — you might know it better as Valium — “is used to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal.”
As far back as his Tennessee days, there have been strong rumors that Douglas had become hooked on pain killers initially prescribed to him by UT doctors. (Coincidentally, former Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge recently admitted that he had become addicted to pain killers at UT.)
Whether or not Douglas’ issues directly tie back to pain killers initially given to him by UT physicians or not, it’s time for the NCAA to at least start examining how pain killers are prescribed to athletes across the country. Talk to a former football player from your favorite SEC school and you’ll likely hear that pain killers were readily available during his playing day. It’s no secret that players want to play and trainers want to get them ready to play. If it takes pain killers to get them ready to play, so be it.
Douglas’ death is a tragedy. But perhaps some good can come from his passing if more people begin to ask questions about easy it is for college athletes to gain access to pain killers.
UPDATE – The Nassau County, Florida medical examiner has now released the autopsy report on Douglas. Multiple drugs — including Methadone and Diazepam mentioned above — as well as Oxycodone and Carisoprodol were found in the player’s system. According to the report, he had consumed no alcohol in the hours before his death.