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School Athletes and Opioids: A Risky Proposition

Injured-athlete-1

By Elaine Chan, Intern

The New Year can offer many, new, and exciting opportunities. However, the New Year can also pose arduous obstacles. One of the challenges that school administrators and communities may face is the opioid misuse prevalence among student–athletes as new sports season starts.

Despite the positive benefits young athletes gain from participating in organized sports, such participation may actually put some adolescents at risk for substance use because of increased access to pain medications.
Youths who participate in high-injury sports may be surrounded by peers who are more likely to have leftover prescription opioids, making it easier to receive diverted prescription opioids to ease injuries without having to acknowledge to parents and coaches that they need medical attention (e.g., hiding injuries from coaches to participate). Therefore, youths involved in organized sports may be at a higher risk to misuse opioid medications because of their increased risk for injury.

Great ways to supplement the required Opioid Use and Misuse Educational Fact Sheet are having the Middlesex County Tackling Opioids through Prevention for Athletes (TOP) Toolkit as one of your resources and have complementary presentations and workshops at your school/organization.

In an effort to reduce the use and misuse of prescription opioids among this high-risk population, this TOP toolkit provides key information to school administrators and communities to support best practices for their student-athletes.

Some of the resources that are available in the TOP toolkit are:

  • Statewide initiatives and best practices to decrease the risk factors leading to opioid use
  • TOP Tips for Athletic Directors/Coaches, Athletic Trainers, Nurses, and Parents
  • Local Resources such as Medicine Drop Box locations in Middlesex County
  • Educational Materials that are presented in a flyer format to offer quick facts and prevention initiatives
  • Media Campaigns from The Partnership for a Drug – Free New Jersey

Please click here to download your own copy of the Middlesex County Tackling Opioids through Prevention for Athletes (TOP) Toolkit.

Please contact Mara Carlin, Coalition Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to have a complementary presentation or workshop from Wellspring Center for Prevention at your school/organization.

Remember. A sports injury can be the first step to addiction. Start off the year well – informed and ready to tackle the year ahead of us!

Source: Coalition for Healthy communities, New Jersey Prevention Network (NJPN), and Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS)

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Friday, 19 April 2019

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