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Prevention Presents: Athletes & Painkillers

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Athletes and Painkillers
Eric Dale
Prevention Specialist

High school athletes are under pressure from just about every angle, as a result, they can become easy targets for a path of destruction. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “80% of all users arrive at heroin after abusing opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.” There is no doubt that heroin has become an epidemic in our community, and believe it or not, most heroin users start off by overusing painkillers.

Injuries happen. Young athletes are still developing, making them more vulnerable to sports related injuries. Most young people have a pretty high pain tolerance, and may not need painkillers for their injury. However, if their injury requires them to be prescribed something stronger, parents should monitor them.

When a patient is over-prescribed pain medication, it can leave pills for continued unnecessary use. For example, in a sport like football, where head and neck injuries appear to be increasing by the year, an athlete may be prescribed a month and a half worth of painkillers for an injury when recovery should take a month.

Different patients may have different reasons as to why they continue to take the pills. Some claim to have pain, others may like the numbing feeling they get, but the end result can be devastating no matter what the reason. An individual pill can cost up to $30 on the black market, making the high they want too expensive. A cheaper solution? Heroin.

There are several ways you can prevent the overuse of prescription pain medication. First, store the meds in a safe location that is not very accessible to guests or intruders who may enter the house. Try to keep it away from places like a medicine cabinet, inside your car, or bedroom nightstands where someone could be tempted if they saw it. Second, be aware of drop-box locations near you so your unused medications can be properly disposed of.

Not all athletes will have an injury that requires prescription pain medication, but it is important to know the risk associated with them. Anyone prescribed painkillers should be monitored, and any leftover drugs should be properly disposed of. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available.



   marymacek blueborder

What's Good About You?
Mary Macek, MAHE, MA, PCC
Clinical Therapist III 



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