What is prescription pain reliever misuse? As defined by the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it’s “use in any way not directed by a doctor, including use without a prescription of one’s own; use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told to take a drug; or use in any other way not directed by a doctor."
As you probably know, prescription opioid addiction – stemming from misuse – has hit the nation hard in recent years. An estimated 8.7 million Americans (over the age of 12) are currently misusing pain relievers. Among 12 to 25 year olds, over 3.3 million are current misusers.
Unfortunately, high school student-athletes can be especially vulnerable to prescription painkiller misuse. The pain relief, an eagerness to return to the field after injury, and the belief that such medication is “safe” because they’re prescribed by a doctor, are just a few reasons why.
Here are five tips – along with online resources – for parents and educators to help keep your student-athlete from misusing painkillers.
Encourage the student-athlete to rest and heal.
Getting back on to the field or court quickly after an injury shouldn’t be the student-athletes’ top priority. Setting a realistic timeline for recovery, and getting the proper amount of rest is crucial and can also remove any temptation to rely on painkillers for quick pain relief. For more information, go to:
- “Preventing Prescription Opioid Misuse Among Student Athletes,” Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
- “How to Prevent Opioid Misuse,” Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- “Injury Management: A Key Component of Prescription Opioid Misuse Prevention,” Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
Know the signs of opioid misuse.
Recognizing the signs of opioid misuse early on can help keep the problem from spiraling out of control. See the resources below:
Monitor the use of opioid medications.
If your child is prescribed prescription opioids, make sure you discuss dosage with the doctor, and closely monitor usage. More information:
Properly dispose of opioid medications.
Removing unused or expired prescription medicine from the home greatly reduces the chances they’ll be misused. Check out the resources below about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and proper drug disposal.
Consider alternative pain therapies.
You should always consider non-prescription-based options for treating pain. See more information below.
- “Are There Any Alternatives When A Physician Offers My Child Opioids for Pain?” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
- “Managing Your Pain: Which Approach is Right for You?” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).