who got her first prescription for opioid addiction or a promising young football player taking a painkiller to relieve his aches and pains, opioids reveal how powerfully addictive they can be.
On the Today Show’s special on opioids, two high school athletes recounted their stories of opioid addiction. One athlete, a lifelong swimmer, claimed that after her prescription was depleted, she resorted to stealing from her grandmother’s medicine cabinet in order to feed her addiction. A young football player, now 18, said that after his doctor would not refill his prescription, he started using black tar heroin.
Both players said that once the pain was blocked, all they wanted to do was get high.
Once legislators learned opioids could yield more harm than good for young athletes, the John Thomas Decker Act of 2016 was composed. If put into effect, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would develop a plan that would provide more resources to student athletes, their parents and those involved in treating them.
This would feature information on the hazards of opioid consumption, how athletes can pursue therapy for addiction, and provide non-opioid painkiller options.
Other health agencies are also doing their part in making sure teenage athletes stay opioid-free. In May, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association provided extensive guidelines to keep teens off of opioids.
Among their many recommendations, they support having parents and physicians notify school nurses of opioid prescriptions, only prescribing painkillers for acute pain and never administering opioids without adult supervision.
“As a parent, take a more advocating role and ask your provider, ‘why are they going this route?’” Shinitzy said.
With more stringent regulations put in place, student athletes could worry less about addiction and focus more on the game.