Preventing Addiction as a Provider or Parent – Hendricks County Substance Abuse Task Force

Preventing Addiction as a Provider or Parent – Hendricks County Substance Abuse Task Force


Young people tend to use opiates after
an injury because of the high stakes associated with sports. Parents need to
be educated on alternatives to a narcotic, that is really temporary. Two to
three days is appropriate short-term and what’s happening is they’re getting a
30-day script. With my use it became a fix for not just my pain management and
these physical ailments, it became an emotional crutch. There’s a
necessity for pain management and opioids, but it doesn’t mean they’re not
being abused. It can be be stopped just by open lines of communication between
trainers, providers, parents. Athletic trainers can be the first health care
provider that athletes and/or active individuals engage with along that
injury spectrum. We’ve not really educated our patients on the
implications of those narcotics. So, for us it’s about having those
conversations, and “this is the timeline, this is the progression of how things
are gonna go” and “how we’re gonna manage your pain.” Well there was a disconnect
there, you know, my athletic trainer wasn’t speaking with my physical
therapist or my doctor, and eventually my doctors, you know, I’d go see different
doctors. They’re not communicating, all of a sudden if I say the right thing I can get
what I want. Our brain has opioid receptors in it that are specific
proteins that opioids attach to and give a pleasurable response and so when
people feel that pleasurable response therefore they get into an escalating
dose. As they escalate the dose, go into withdrawal when they come off the
medication. So they take the medication to feel better but also to avoid from
feeling the withdrawal from not having the medication on board. So it becomes a
vicious cycle. Most cases I don’t prescribe opioids for acute injuries. For
the most part I rely on immobilization, crutches, sling for the upper extremity,
anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and/or exercise therapy as we
move people back to routine activities or sports, and rest is
a very important part of that too – and not trying to push through pain and or get
back to sports too quickly. Relapse is part of recovery and you just have to pray
that, you know, they make it through each one of those relapses in order to come
out on the other side stronger. They have to want their recovery more than what we
do. If a young person seems to be in trouble the best thing to do is reach
out to the prescribing physician, they can reach out to the school counselor,
they can reach out to a center like The Willow Center with professionals who
understand addiction and how to treat it. We need to be bringing people into the
schools who have experienced this. The real picture is listening to individuals
who are just like those kids sitting in the classroom, have the same ups and
downs in life as what they do and yet they still lost everything and could
have lost their lives. One of the best things we can do as a community and as
supports is just give these young people permission to be vulnerable, and say, “You
know what it’s okay to not be okay, it’s normal.” And I think it’s encouraging
these young people to talk about it. So parents need to ask the question, “Is
there an alternative to the narcotic?” If it’s necessary to put them on an opiate
and the potential for tolerance – what’s their plan to get them off? And what’s
the plan to get them back involved in sports without re-injury. Don’t leave
drug and alcohol education up to the schools. It is our job to continue having
those conversations.

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