Do NJ high school athletes take too many painkillers? New rules urged
The organization that regulates high school sports in the state is recommending new guidelines for the use of prescription pain-killers among student athletes.
"I do not really see the need to have so many opioid medications prescribed for relatively minor injuries," said John Kripsak, chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
He says opioid abuse is at the point in New Jersey where over half of the narcotics deaths can be pinned on opioid narcotics.
About 12 percent of male student athletes and 8 percent of female student athletes have been prescribed opioids in the past 12 months, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
The NJSIAA is recommending extreme caution for doctors in prescribing opioids for student athletes, and the greater use of non-narcotic alternatives to relieve sports injury pain.
"We are trying to limit the overall volume of opioids that are being prescribed to student/athletes," Kripsak said.
The association recommends that if opioids are prescribed, that they are done so only in cases of extreme pain from acute injuries.
The NJSIAA also wants physicians to provide detailed information about the use of a prescribed opioid, including warnings about abuse and addiction. And the group recommends that opioid prescriptions never be given directly to student-athletes, but rather to a parent or guardian.
The association also recommends that parents notify the school nurse and/or athletic trainer about opioid prescriptions.
Treating doctors should establish a "contract" to establish boundaries and behaviors when prescribing Opioids to student-athletes.
They recommend that every school district establish a specific and detailed policy on the Opioid issue.
According to Kripsak, studies show that 80 percent of heroin users started down the drug abuse path by overusing Opioids.