Beginning next fall, high school student-athletes in New Jersey — and the parents of players under 18 — will be required to watch a video raising awareness that high school athletes face a higher risk of becoming addicted to prescription pain medication.
A joint announcement regarding the initiative was made last week by the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (“NJ CARES”) and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. NJ CARES will produce the video with input from NJSIAA.
"Studies have shown that the prevalence of sports injuries put student athletes at a higher risk of opioid use and misuse," said NJ CARES director Sharon Joyce. "Our partnership with the NJSIAA will help raise awareness and educate students and parents on how to prevent sports injuries from leading young athletes down the path to addiction."
"Data clearly demonstrates that scholastic athletes are particularly vulnerable to the scourge of opioid abuse," said Larry White, executive director of NJSIAA, which serves 300,000 student-athletes. "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."
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.
According to Tap into Verona/Cedar Grove, the video will expand the information provided in the fact sheet to include, among other information:
- the importance of properly storing and safely disposing of unused or unwanted medications to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands;
- tools to make informed decisions before starting opioid treatment for a sports injury;
- tips for making return-to-play-decisions that emphasize the student athlete's health, and reject the notion that a student-athlete should play through pain; and
- the importance of providing emotional support to teammates sidelined by injury.