HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Being a star college athlete while being addicted to opioids can happen after a serious sports injury.
That’s why there’s a new national campaign aimed at university students.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, college junior Darnell Edge is hurt and in pain. He’s on the Fairleigh Dickinson University basketball team, but can’t play.
“I tore my patellar tendon in my right knee,” he told Carlin. “I was prescribed Percocets, but I didn’t used them. I took them for the first two days, but then I felt sick, so I stopped using them.”
Edge quickly quit the painkillers, but others who stay on them longer can get hooked, leading them to dangerous lives of getting high.
Brendon Cole, a former lacrosse player for the University of Richmond, was lost to a drug overdose in 2014 at the age of 22. His mother Gail said he was legally prescribed painkillers after two surgeries, which she said led him to illegal drugs and then death.
“We found out after the fact that he had been using for a few years,” she said. “He was addicted to the pills. When they became too expensive and money ran out, that’s when everyone switches to heroin.”
Gail joined Congressman Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino and others for the announcement of a bipartisan effort in Congress to get better tracking and reporting of the problem from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The campaign also includes creating more outreach on campuses, where student athletes who get hurt and need pain management are especially vulnerable.
The message seems to be getting through, Carlin reported after speaking with student athletes.
“Even for the smallest things they prescribe these big narcotics, so I think it’s important that we watch what we prescribe to people,” Reanna Cervantes said.
She and her teammates said even if they are injured, they make an effort to cut out pills and tough it out if possible to stay healthy and alive.
Team doctors and coaches are reminded to closely monitor student athletes, especially at the beginning of treatment, for signs they could slide into addiction.