On Wednesday, December 5th, CCSHM hosted the Tackling Opioids through Prevention in Athletes conference. At this conference, we distributed a toolkit with information about best practices for coaches, athletic directors, and others who work directly with young athletes. The majority of heroin addicts started using prescribed opiates before turning to heroin, which is the concern when it comes to athletes. Sports related injuries can lead to the prescribing of pain relievers, including opiates such hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (Oxycontin), and Codeine, to name a few. This exposure can quickly lead to addiction.
At the conference, parents Don and Bobbie Riebel spoke about their experience with addiction. In 2013, the Riebel’s lost their son, Colin, to an overdose. Colin was a young athlete. He was a pitcher and played on the football team. Colin tore his rotator cuff pitching and tore his ACL several times, all of which resulting in surgery and Percocets. They shared his experience of struggling with addiction, advancing from the pain killers he was prescribed, to turning to heroin because it was significantly cheaper. They shared his success that he underwent in a treatment center, coming home a changed man. But, something never changed and, unfortunately, Don found Colin unresponsive early one morning.
Aside from the Riebel’s, Dr. Steven Aydin spoke about the opiate epidemic. Dr. Aydin is a pain management doctor based out of Bergen County. Dr. Aydin gave a powerful presentation on the rise of opiate use in the United States. He showed the audience how deaths due to opioid overdoses has dramatically increased, and is likely to continue to increase. Dr. Aydin discussed the importance of alternatives to opiates, like prescribing NSAIDS or using nerve blockers. He also discussed the importance of not letting athletes return to play before they are ready.
Overall, the conference was a great success of explaining the dangers that young athletes face when it comes to injuries. If you have any questions or are interested in getting a copy of the toolkit, please email Barb Kauffman at [email protected]