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Angels Player Tyler Skaggs Allegedly Used Drugs For Some Time. So How Could He Function As A Starting Pitcher?

Creative rendering of activity in the brain.
Creative rendering of activity in the brain.
Science Photo Library/SCIEPRO/Getty Images

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A recent ESPN report dropped the latest bombshell in the tragic death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. The 27-year-old died in July when he choked on his own vomit. An autopsy showed Skaggs had alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone  in his system at the time. 

The report says a public relations employee for the Angels shared with investigators that he provided oxycodone to Skaggs and abused it with him for years. Eric Kay, the team’s director of communications, also told investigators that two of the team’s officials knew of Skaggs’ drug use long before he died, but those officials reportedly denied the claims.  The new revelations in the investigation could lead to a future legal battle, although Kay has said he doesn’t believe the drugs in Skaggs system the night he died were ones Kay had provided. Skaggs was a starting pitcher for the MLB team.

So how could he have possibly maintained the lifestyle of a professional athlete under the influence of harmful substances for a potentially long period of time? What does it say about high-functioning addiction? We turn to experts on opioid addiction to answer those questions. Have you struggled with substance use? Were you able to function and maintain certain aspects of your life? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722.


Timothy Fong, professor of addiction psychiatry at UCLA where he also directs the school’s Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program

Judith Grisel, professor of psychology at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA) and author of the book “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction” (Doubleday, February 2019)