A new law in New Jersey is designed to educate students participating in athletics, and their parents, about the dangers of opioid prescription drug use and abuse.

The measure requires school districts and private schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading competitions to distribute fact sheets every year to parents and or guardians of student athletes and cheerleaders.

The law directs the New Jersey Departments of Education to work with the Department of Health to develop the fact sheet, with information about the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event students are prescribed drugs for sports-related injuries.

“In today’s unfortunate substance abuse opioid epidemic, we need to take every prevention that we can,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, one of the prime sponsors of the measure.

She said the law "really is about effective prevention, and it begins with awareness."

Angelo Valente, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, said the new law is a great step forward.

“It will reach the parents of student athletes when they’re at that position when they have to accept a prescription for an opioid. It’s important that they’re aware that these drugs can become extremely addictive,” he said. “This will help parents to understand there may be some options, non-opioid options, to deal with acute pain as a result of injuries that occur from athletic participation by young people in our state.”

Valente noted numerous research studies show there is definitely a link between prescription painkillers and heroin abuse, and even with all of the discussion about opioid abuse, the partnership has found “a third of parents of middle school children don’t understand that there’s a link."

He added because of this lin,  “this is certainly a targeted audience that needs to be aware of the circumstances that might occur as a result of taking an opioid, and they should look for the signs and symptoms of addiction immediately for those individuals that might be showing signs of dependency.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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