CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office will feature the Ritchie County High School vs. Doddridge County High School gridiron matchup as an Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week.

Throughout each week, the initiative engages with student athletes, coaches, school officials and communities across West Virginia. Representatives from the Attorney General’s Office inform the respective coaches as to the dangers of opioid use and provide educational material for display and distribution in the schools to foster more discussion of the issue.

The week culminates with the Attorney General’s Office staffing an information booth at each of the select sporting events to distribute opioid abuse awareness materials.

“Prevention remains key in tackling the devastation wrought by opioid abuse once and for all,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Each week this initiative provides yet another opportunity to present lifesaving information to communities across West Virginia. Without education, addiction can begin with treatment for the most routine of injuries, so it is crucial that we inform everyone – young and old – about the risks of prescription opioids in hopes that added awareness can make the difference in stopping senseless death.”

The initiative, now in its fifth year, is part of a broader partnership to tackle opioid use in high school athletics. It involves the Attorney General’s Office, West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and the West Virginia Board of Medicine.

“Opioids are such a huge problem in our state. Anything we can do to get the message out about the dangers of opioid addiction, we’ll do it,” said Doddridge County Schools Superintendent Adam Cheeseman. “At Doddridge County Schools, we take a holistic mindset where we look not only at the intellectual well-being of our students, but their physical, emotional, and social well-being, as well. Getting this information out to our students and our community is very important to us, and we’re glad to be a continued part of this effort.”

Opioid painkillers may temporarily relieve pain, but do nothing to address the underlying injury and can have serious side effects. The medication also carries striking similarities to heroin.

 The Attorney General and his partners worry the unnecessary usage of opioid painkillers to treat athletic injuries could lead to increased dependence, abuse and addiction.

Parents and caregivers are urged to discuss alternative treatment plans with their child’s healthcare provider. Such alternatives include physical, occupational and massage therapy, along with chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and over-the-counter medications.

If an opioid proves necessary, parents and caregivers are encouraged to only use the medication as directed, closely monitor their child’s use, safely dispose of any unused pills and talk about the inherent dangers of misuse, abuse and sharing.

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