CHARLESTON, W.Va. —— The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office has announced it will feature the Man vs. Lincoln County High School gridiron matchup as an Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week. Kickoff for the game is 7:30 p.m. at Hamlin.
The Attorney General’s Office will staff an informational booth at the game to distribute opioid abuse awareness materials, discuss the dangers of using opioid painkillers to treat high school sports injuries and partner with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission for in-game public address announcements concerning the topic.
“This week’s matchup provides a great opportunity to highlight the dangers of opioid use,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “Everyone must recognize the addictive characteristics of these painkillers and consider safer alternatives, especially for teenage athletes with such promising futures.”
The Attorney General’s Office also will provide educational materials for distribution throughout the respective schools and other sports. Additionally, office representatives will talk about the dangers of opioid use with both football coaches to foster more discussion of the issue with their players and coaching staffs during the week.
“With the current rise of opioid use in Lincoln County and the state of West Virginia, we are pleased to have the Attorney General’s Office helping raise awareness with our students at LCHS of the potential dangers that are associated with these powerfully addictive drugs,” said Derek Christian, vice principal and athletic director at Lincoln County High School.
Spotlighting this week’s game follows the Attorney General teaming with several groups to tackle opioid use in high school athletics, including the WVSSAC, West Virginia Board of Medicine and the West Virginia Physical Therapy Association.
Opioid painkillers may temporarily relieve pain, but do nothing to address the underlying injury and can have serious side effects. The medication also carries striking similarities to heroin.
The Attorney General and his partners worry the unnecessary usage of opioid painkillers to treat athletic injuries could lead to increased dependence, abuse and addiction. In fact, a New York University study found, “three-quarters of high school heroin users started with a prescription opioid.”
This initiative will push other forms of pain management. Alternatives include physical therapy, non-opioid painkillers, acupuncture, massage therapy and over-the-counter medication.
Parents and caregivers are urged to discuss alternative treatment plans with their child’s healthcare provider. If an opioid proves necessary, they are encouraged to strictly use the medication as directed, closely monitor their child’s use, safely dispose of any unused pills and talk about the inherent dangers of misuse, abuse and sharing.