West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the Liberty (Raleigh) vs. Clay County matchup as an “Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week,” as his office continues the initiative for a second consecutive year. The effort won praise last year engaging with teams and communities at nearly 60 games across the Mountain State.
The Attorney General’s Office staffs an information booth at select high school sporting events to distribute opioid abuse awareness materials. Field representatives also discuss the dangers of opioid use with the respective coaches and provide educational material for display and distribution in the schools to foster more discussion of the issue.
“Alleviating the opioid scourge is vitally important to making our state the best it can be,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This epidemic has taken too many of our young people and left children without parents. As long as we work together, we will make a difference.”
The initiative is part of a broader partnership to tackle opioid use in high school athletics. It involves the Attorney General’s Office, West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and the West Virginia Board of Medicine.
“The WVSSAC recognizes the importance of the program and Attorney General Morrisey’s efforts to stop opioid abuse in our state,” said Bernie Dolan, executive director for the WVSSAC. “We, as well as our schools, stand behind Attorney General Morrisey. We must all work together to reclaim the lives of students and families ripped apart by this horrible epidemic.”
Mark A. Spangler, executive director for the state’s Board of Medicine, said the sports partnership is one aspect of his members’ commitment to fighting abuse. It also involves continuing education requirements, including ways to discuss the risks and benefits of opioids with patients and families.
“West Virginia’s physician community is committed to providing patients with up-to-date information about the proper use of opioid medications, as well as their potential for addiction, diversion and abuse,” Spangler said. “Establishing that ongoing dialogue is key to preventing problems that we currently face in West Virginia.”
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.
This initiative pushes other forms of pain management. Alternatives include physical, occupational and massage therapy, along with chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and over-the-counter medications.
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.