The Premier League is reportedly ‘swamped’ with a rising number of stars getting hooked on sleeping pills.
According to The Sun , a number of players have turned to prescription drugs such as Zopiclone and Zolpidem and are mixing them dangerously with alcohol.
The combination can create a recreational high for the consumer, and the Class C pills can be highly addictive.
A recent report from The Sun claimed a top-flight star – who has also represented England – has been taking the pills at parties with champagne and vodka.
Now the publication further claims two more stars who have been England internationals previously are also risking their lives and careers by seeking out the pills on the black market for personal use.
Colin Bland, chief executive of the Sporting Chance clinic, told The Sun: “We have seen a notable increase in this behaviour during the pandemic.
“There is help there, from us, the Premier League and their clubs, but it’s been harder to get the message out because of lockdown. It’s created a perfect storm.”
The drugs are not currently included on the World Anti-Doping Authority’s banned substance list, but clubs are facing pressure to test their players to help stamp out the misuse.
It is not uncommon for clubs to administer small doses of the sleeping pills to their players to help them sleep after evening matches.
But the small doses – which are in line with what a GP would prescribe – only have the same desired effect for so long until the body builds up an increased tolerance.
This has led to players seeking out larger amounts of the drugs and using them for recreational purposes.
One of the players is said to have been prescribed the drug initially by his club doctor, but has now become dependent on them and is taking them daily.
He has sought help from his club who have advised he undergo therapy for his addiction, while the player’s identity is ‘common knowledge’ among football circles.
Talk of the pills is allegedly ‘rife’ among dressing rooms, with several of his teammates also consuming them, while a source told The Sun: “They’ve been gobbling them down like sweets.”