CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office will kick off its “Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week” initiative for a fourth consecutive year.
The statewide awareness effort has yielded immense success since its inception, engaging with teams and communities at more than 165 high school football games across West Virginia.
“The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on West Virginia’s youth,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Most every student knows somebody that has been impacted by the crisis. We must be persistent in our efforts to raise awareness. It is crucial that student athletes and their communities learn about the negative impact of opioid drug abuse.”
The 2019 season kicks off with games featuring Logan vs. Man, Weir vs. Oak Glen, Brooke vs. Wheeling Park, Lincoln County vs. Shady Spring, George Washington vs. South Charleston, Tyler Consolidated vs. Ritchie County, East Fairmont vs. North Marion, Buckhannon-Upshur vs. Fairmont Senior, Hedgesville vs. Washington and Petersburg vs. Berkeley Springs.
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.
“Obviously, the opioid crisis has devastated every corner of our state, and it’s impacted our athletes, other students and their families,” said Bernie Dolan, executive director of the WVSSAC. “That’s why we’ve supported Attorney General Morrisey’s efforts to raise awareness of the problem, and we’re happy to continue that support.”
Throughout each week, the initiative engages with student athletes, coaches, school officials and communities across West Virginia. Field representatives inform the respective coaches as to 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.
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.
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.