CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office will feature the Sherman vs. Scott gridiron matchup as an Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week.
Throughout each week, the initiative engages with student athletes, coaches, school officials and communities across West Virginia. Representatives from the Attorney General’s Office inform the respective coaches about the dangers of opioid use and provide educational material for display and distribution in the schools to foster more discussion of the issue.
The week culminates with the Attorney General’s Office staffing an information booth at each of the select sporting events to distribute opioid-abuse-awareness materials.
“Prevention remains key in tackling the devastation wrought by opioid abuse once and for all,” Morrisey said in a news release. “Each week, this initiative provides yet another opportunity to present lifesaving information to communities across West Virginia. Without education, addiction can begin with treatment for the most routine of injuries, so it is crucial that we inform everyone — young and old — about the risks of prescription opioids in hopes that added awareness can make the difference in stopping senseless death.”
The initiative, now in its fifth year, 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 drug epidemic has destroyed lives, families and communities throughout Boone County and Southern West Virginia for more than a decade,” Jacob Messer, Ed.D., said. “As the Scott High School principal, I see its effects every day. It is personal not only to me but also to almost all of our families here. I lost a nephew to a drug overdose last year, and I have friends, relatives and former students who still are battling addiction. It will take a team effort to solve the ever-worsening issue of drug abuse in Boone County and West Virginia, and we are committed to helping any way we can.”
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.
Morrisey said he and his partners worry the unnecessary usage of opioid painkillers to treat athletic injuries could lead to increased dependence, abuse and addiction.
Parents and caregivers are urged to discuss alternative treatment plans with their child’s healthcare provider. Such alternatives include physical, occupational and massage therapy, along with chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and over-the-counter medications.
If an opioid proves necessary, parents and caregivers are encouraged to only 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.