New Law Informs Athletes’ Parents on Dangers of Opioids

The state of New Jersey recently passed a new law that requires school districts and private schools offering interscholastic sports or cheerleading competitions to provide information on the dangers of opioid prescription drug use to parents and guardians every year.

The legislation is an important step in helping parents make the best decisions for their children when they potentially could be prescribed an opioid. It is crucial that they understand that opioid painkillers can be highly addictive and that there are other alternatives to managing pain caused by sports injuries.

Student athletes are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to opioid misuse. Studies show that male athletes are twice as likely as the general population to be prescribed prescription painkillers and four times more likely to abuse them.

There is also a link between prescribed painkillers and heroin abuse, as nearly half of young people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before using heroin. Research by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has found that nearly a third of parents with middle school children are unaware of that link.

The Partnership has worked and will continue to work with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and other partners, including the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, to collaborate on ways to better inform parents of the dangers prescription opioids can present to their student athletes.

The Partnership also has begun spreading the word about the dangers of opioid abuse through the second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, which will be held Oct. 6. The first training session for the event was held via webinar on Wednesday.

The statewide single-day initiative will mobilize families, members of the prevention and treatment communities, community leaders and concerned citizens to raise awareness of the potential for dependency on prescribed pain medicine and its link to heroin abuse rates in our state. The effort will have a dual focus: educating physicians and raising awareness among New Jersey citizens and families.

Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day is a project of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, with thousands of volunteers across the state.

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