Brian O’Driscoll has revealed that he regularly took painkillers during his rugby career, and it became a “habit”.
The rugby star stated that prescription painkillers like Difene and co-codamol were given to Leinster and Ireland rugby players to ensure they could “play their best game.”
Speaking on Off The Ball, Brian admitted that painkillers became another part of the game prep: “I’d have been part of teams where the doctor would have walked down the bus on the way to games inquiring who wanted what in advance.”
“For me, for the last couple of seasons, part of my match prep would have been a Difene and couple of co-codamol.”
“Just a painkiller, that if I was carrying something [an injury]… it almost became like habit where it gave me a fighting chance if I wasn’t feeling 100%, that it might have levelled it up, which was probably a lot of the time. That is the reality of it,” he continued.
“I wouldn’t have been the only one doing that. It was usually the older players just to try to balance the equilibrium, almost, of feeling ok. I’m sure at times in my subconscious I would have taken it because it became part and parcel where maybe I could have done without it.
“If it’s perfectly legal and there’s no need for TUEs [Therapeutic Use Exemptions] or any of that, give yourself a chance of playing your best game.”
“I also had caffeine before games. I’d have three little tablets of caffeine, like chewing gum. You’d get into a routine where I knew exactly what I was doing, I had it down to the final seconds.”
“As soon as I ran out on the pitch I’d bash it away and do my pre-warm up before we got together with the team. That was part and parcel of the last four or five years of my career.”
The use of painkillers in rugby has been heavily debated in recent times, which has definitely changed the accessibility of certain prescription drugs.
“Within the Leinster and Irish set-up, at that time, they were accessible. You could get your hands on Difene,” Brian explained.
“I think you’ve got to fight your case a little bit more and prove the necessity of having them. Certainly drugs cabinets that might have been open once upon a time are inaccessible.”
“That used to be for sleepers as well — diazepam to try and counteract what would happen with the caffeine because [players] couldn’t sleep. I’m not saying it was the culture but it happened,” he added.