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N.J. athletic association takes aim at prescription drug abuse

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (NJSIAA) Medical Advisory Committee has recommended nine protocols to help combat prescription drug abuse by student-athletes.

NJSIAAAdvisory committee chairman John P. Kripsak said painkiller abuse has reached “emergency” status and new policies must be put in place to help “turn the tide.” The NJSIAA indicated that the advisory committee will reach out to potential coalition partners — medical societies, pharmacy groups, law enforcement agencies, etc. — to gain additional support for its protocols.

Here are the committee’s nine recommendations:

  1. Physicians should exercise extreme caution whenever considering opioid prescriptions for student-athletes.
  2. In terms of prescriptions, the first option should be such non-narcotic alternatives as acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, salicylates, and non-medication treatments like cryotherapy and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation.
  3. If opioids are prescribed, it should only be for acute injuries resulting in severe pain – and only for one week at a time, with no automatic refills.
  4. All opioid prescriptions should be accompanied with detailed information on use, including specific warnings about abuse and addiction risks.
  5. Opioid prescriptions should never be given directly to student-athletes, and should never be administered in an unsupervised manner.
  6. Treating physicians and/or parents/guardians should notify the school nurse and/or athletic trainer about all opioid prescriptions.
  7. Treating physicians should utilize a “contract” – to establish boundaries and behaviors – whenever prescribing opioids to student athletes.
  8. Every school district needs to develop a specific, detailed policy addressing this issue.
  9. School districts should implement drug monitoring programs, with an emphasis on identifying students who seem to exhibit signs of opioid abuse.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 12% of male student-athletes and 8% of female student-athletes have been prescribed “highly addictive” opioid class narcotics in the past 12 months. The most commonly abused prescription medications are narcotic painkillers, including Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.

Click here to read the complete statement from the NJSIAA.


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