Parents: Know the Risks but not the Solutions?

Opioids have been a rising issue in the United States, and more recently the opioid overdoses have been acknowledged as an epidemic. Of these people who misuse or abuse opioids, 90% of them have noted that their addiction began in their teen years. As the issue is on the rise, there is a known risk, but what is being done about this risk?

Half of parents who were asked in a recent study stated that they were concerned that their children were at risk for addiction, and yet 66% of parents stated that opioids were the best pain management solution. Unfortunately, a lot of parents and nonparents believe that opioids are the best pain management, probably because of advertisements and the eagerness for doctors to prescribe them. As much as we know that opioids are a problem and create high risk for addiction, one 33% of parents who went to a doctor with their child asked about alternative pain management to opioids. The numbers just do not add up. Further, the major concern is that over the past two decades, opioid related deaths in adolescents has more than tripled.

The Risks:
• Opioids are extremely addictive. Overdose is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 50 in the United States. More than 2 million Americans abuse or misuse opioids because they are extremely addictive.
• Parents are not monitoring their children. By being aware of how many pills your child has taken and when they are taking them, it allows you to know what the habits of your child are. With helpful monitoring, you are helping to limit the ability to misuse.
• Parents are not talking to their children’s doctors about alternatives. Doctors will prescribe opioids because they are the most commonly known prescription pain management and most commonly accepted. Without starting the conversation, doctors will rarely offer alternatives.
• Utilizing improper disposal or not disposing of medications. By keeping the leftover medications instead of disposing of them, it poses a major risk to misuse.

The Solutions:
• Alternating between over-the-counter medications. This is known to help alleviate pain, in some instances, even better than opiates.
• Utilizing heat and ice. Heat, ice, rest and elevation helps to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation, leading to a decrease in pain.
• Physical therapy and/or acupuncture. Physical therapy will increase range of motion that might be causing the problem, as well as increase strength. Acupuncture has also been a leading pain reliever with minimal side effects.
• Quicker disposal. See if your municipality has a prescription drop box. If they do not, then make sure to crush up leftover medications and mix them with something like used coffee grounds, or cat litter to discourage someone from using the medications or taking them out of the trash.

There are known risks to using opiates. It is important for parents to not only recognize these risks but also to intervene and alleviate the issue before it becomes a real issue. Though it is not always up to the parents, parents can ask their child’s doctors for alternatives to pain medications, whether it be holistic approaches or other non-opiate pain medications. Even by opening the conversation with the doctor, it will show your child that it is a good idea to ask questions and advocate for themselves.

Influence of a Coach on a Student Athlete

Coaches quickly take on a major role in student’s lives. They are the people that push students, encourage students, and generally become the safe haven for a student. Coaches are almost like second parents to athletes, especially because of how close knit teams become. This level of influence is vital when it comes to setting good examples and keeping the students safe.
Recent studies have found that almost half of alcoholics and drug addicts became addicted before the age of 25, in the United States alone. Currently, the age where students begin to try alcohol is only 12 years old and the crucial years for prevention are 14-24, when they are most at risk. Coaches work with students for a lot of this crucial decade. High school sports alone cover the first half of the decade, moving into college sports for the latter half.

The coach-player relationships allows for a level of communication that other prevention methods miss. Due to the closeness and role aforementioned, students are more likely to listen to a coach versus someone else. This gives the coach the opportunity to talk about health and wellness, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and sports injury and recovery.
The more that we are able to talk to students about the dangers of poor health behaviors, including sleep deprivation, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, the better it will stick in a student’s head. Meaning that this will be the most effective “coaching” a student can receive.

Keeping in mind the role that you have as a coach is a key component to building a foundation or a safety net for a student. As a coach, there are some things you could do to provide the best education for your students:
• Have an understanding of general health and wellness. As a coach, this is a given. There is a lot of education that goes into being an effective coach. Staying up to date with research and keeping your students informed on best practices and policy for overall wellness will encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle, ultimately discouraging them from poor health decisions.
• Be a good role model, set the example. Students learn by modeling what is being done. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a practice that leads to mistrust. Being a good example encourages students to put in the work and they are likely to follow in your footprints.
• Have set policies on alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Making students aware of policies from the beginning of the season leaves no room for errors. By being honest about the policy and talking with your student athletes, you not only make students aware, but you open the conversation up about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
• Educate your students. Teach your students the effects of using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs on their overall health, as well as on their performance as an athlete. Understanding the negative effects can result in students not wanting to even start with the risky behavior, especially when they realize how much it can affect their ability to play in the sport. Again, this also opens the door to further discussions between students and coaches.

Ultimately, the coach’s role in a student’s life is extremely important. Being aware of the amount of influence one can have on a student is key to providing effective prevention techniques and opening a clear and safe line of communication. Your role as a coach is crucial to protecting and encouraging our students.

The Risks of Vaping and What you should know before Picking up this Smoking Alternative

Vaping has been around for a while. It started as a method to quit smoking, without cutting out nicotine cold turkey. As time has passed, there have been multiple brands of e-cigarettes and vapes, but Juul has quickly become the most commonly known. Some other popular names for e-cigarettes and vapes include mods, pens, juice, PV, or e-liquid.

Vapes are small and are able to be hidden well, which is part of the draw. They also come in a variety of different flavors, creating a marketing effort directed towards youth. In fact, of users that are age 12-17, 85% are using flavored vapes. The marketing of vapes makes it seem safer than smoking, to the point where 3 out of 5 teens believe that vaping occasionally will do no harm.

While vapes are marketed as being safer, one Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. The pods are small, so it is hard to recognize just how much of one is being smoke at one time, which leads to consuming more nicotine than a person would have otherwise.

As the availability of these e-cigarettes and vapes increases, so does the use. In 2011, only about 2% of boys and girls partook in smoking e-cigarettes or vapes, but comparatively in 2017, this rose to 13% in 8th graders, and up to 28% in 12th graders.

In the state of New Jersey, the legal age to buy tobacco products is 21. Given the sheer number of people under the age of 21 that are obtaining these devices, it is evident that people are illegally purchasing or selling devices to underage persons.

The real risk with electronic cigarettes and vaping is that we do not know the effects that it will have on the body for long term use. According to the American Lung Association, there has been a link between vaping and popcorn lung, especially when it comes to flavored vapes. A 2015 study showed that 39 out of 51 tested brands contained diacetyl, which is the chemical known to cause popcorn lung.

Aside from this known side effect, it is unknown what will happen due to the chemicals and mechanisms of e-cigarettes and vapes. Generally, the oil or liquid is heated up using metal coils, which can then be inhaled along with the nicotine.

Smoking electronic cigarettes is a gateway to other nicotine products and is a health concern that is completely avoidable. Cigarette smoking was almost obsolete but vapes are bringing the nicotine and big tobacco companies back to the top. It is not a healthy alternative to smoking, and it is important to recognize the risks associated with using, especially in those underage.

CBD: What Parents Should Know

CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a major, non-psychoactive component of marijuana, but can also be extracted from hemp. Most CBD oils are legal in New Jersey and has recently become a new fad that a lot of people are engaging in.

According to Healthline, CBD is said to relieve pain. We naturally have an endocannabinoid system in our bodies that helps to regulate everyday functions like sleep and pain by producing cannabinoids, a neurotransmitter. CBD enters this system and enhance the natural neurotransmitters.

Aside from pain, CBD has been said to assist in treatment with those with anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that even animals have found reprieve while using CBD. The advantage of CBD is that it is found to be less addictive than the average anti-anxiety medicine and antidepressants.

But is CBD really safe? Not all CBD is legal. If it is derived from marijuana, it is only legal in states where marijuana is legal, but if it is derived from hemp then it is legal in every state and can sold be almost anywhere. CBD has been known to interact with certain medications, also, so make sure to check with a doctor before taking.

Some additional side effects include diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue. There are also not many regulations, leading a lot up to the discretion of the company in regard to sourcing, what concentration, and what else is in it.