A new effort is moving forward to help prevent Jersey’s high school athletes from getting hooked on prescription painkillers.

The Garden State Pharmacy Owners Association is working with the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association to spread the word about the Stop Opioid Abuse Program

“We’re looking for a way to help people avoid the tragedies of opioid abuse,” said Marty Miller, the executive director of Garden State Pharmacy Owners.

He said the program will “educate the athletes and the administrators and the coaches and the trainers on how to avoid some of these problems and what to look for."

According to Dr. Jack Kripsak, the chairman of the NJSIAA medical advisory committee, in many cases when a student athlete gets injured, they don’t need 60 Percocets, just a couple of Tylenol.

He said the Stop Opioid Abuse program will encourage student athletes to “try to use Tylenol or anti-inflamatories or Tramadol, which is a non narcotic pain medicine. But even with that, to limit it to five days.”

He said besides using pain meds, student athletes should also be encouraged to try other treatments.

“Utilize physical therapy, utilize cryotherapy like using ice to help keep pain down and inflammation down.”

Miller said the program will aim to increase awareness about these substances and drive home a simple message.

“You really have to be careful, you have to know what you’re getting involved in, and we want the parents to be fully aware of what their athletes and their kids might be involved in.”

He said the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey will supply the information and materials.

Miller added this isn’t going to make the opioid abuse crisis disappear, but “we’re another voice to educate the public on how to avoid getting sucked into the problem of opioid abuse.”

Kripsak said parents and their kids need to be told: “Don’t let your doctor just prescribe the opioids if you really don’t need them. And if you do, you shouldn’t take them for very long.”

He envisions having students be educated about opioids in health class, and instituting a requirement that parents sign a sheet in the sports pre-participation package that confirms they’ve read opioid guidelines and addiction warnings.

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

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