Fighting Opioid Abuse

April 6, 2018

This spring, New York will begin an initiative to have teachers and coaches educate young people about substance abuse, including misusing prescription drugs, around the start of the spring sports season.

According to the Times Union, a partnership between the State Education Department, the State Department of Health and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will provide schools with flash drives that contain materials to help them discuss the issue with young people. The materials include information on the ways drugs can be misused, where to get treatment, and how to establish a program to prevent opioid overdoses, among other topics.

On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about the opioid epidemic, which has killed 500,000 people in the US since 2000.

"We unfortunately know all too well in New York the devastating impact substance abuse and opioid addiction can have, and any action we can take to educate children on these dangers and save lives is an action worth taking," Cuomo said. "As trusted community members who interact with students on a regular basis, teachers and coaches are invaluable resources in the fight against substance abuse."

Some athletes said they use pain medicine to continue playing before their injuries are completely healed. Howard Zucker, New York State Health Commissioner, said he hopes coaches will help to prevent this.

"Athletes' love of the game can make it particularly difficult to stop playing when they suffer an injury," Zucker said. "Coaches and other educators play a unique role in young people's lives and must teach them about the dangers of misusing pain medication, either to get a 'high' or to get back on the field before an injury is fully healed. Both can have lasting consequences."

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