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Athletes and Opioids Presentation Delivered to District Teams
Beginning in fall 2020, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) will require all student athletes across the state, as well as the parents of student-athletes under the age of 18, to watch a video intended to raise awareness about the susceptibility of young athletes to prescription pain medication dependency and opioid addiction.
The video, which was produced in cooperation with the state Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) is currently available for public viewing as a precursor to the 2020 mandate. You can watch it below.
Before the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Middletown Township Public Schools and Director of Athletics, Rich Carroll, invited High School North and South athletes to a presentation on the subject of addiction to pain killers, some of which are classified as addictive opioids.
The emotional presentation was led by High School North alumnus Kait McCarthy, a Community Development Specialist for the West Long Branch-based organization Prevention First.
McCarthy explained how some people who develop a dependency on prescription pain killers and opioids are those recovering from injuries. These individuals are prescribed medication by their doctors to manage pain during the rehabilitation process, but can become addicted to that prescription drug.
McCarthy noted that younger athletes are at a higher risk for addiction.
If your athlete was unable to attend the presentation, please watch it in full below.
In a release announcing the new mandate, Larry White, NJSIAA Executive Director, said data indicates that scholastic athletes “are particularly vulnerable to the scourge of opioid abuse.”
"When we began speaking with NJ Cares about development of a video for these students and their families, it was clear this was a terrific opportunity. We're delighted to be collaborating on an initiative that I’m confident will have positive impact on the lives of many young people across our state," said White.
New Jersey law currently requires that schools distribute a fact sheet to all student-athletes and cheerleaders including basic information on how students obtain opioids, signs of opioid use, preventing opioid use and misuse, and ways for athletes to reduce the risk of injury. General prevention resources are also provided.
The timing of this video campaign is particularly poignant given the severe impact of opioids in our area. According to statistics compiled by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office there have been 500 overdose deaths recorded in the county since 2017, and 460 of those deaths were related to Heroin Opiates. During that period, another 1,394 overdose deaths were avoided thanks to the deployment of Naloxone, a medication that blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication.
For more information on the new NJSIAA mandate, or to introduce your rising high school student-athlete to the dangers of prescription drug and opioid dependency please visit the Office of the Attorney General webpage.