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CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office will feature the Ripley vs. Lincoln County gridiron matchup as an Opioid Abuse Prevention Game of the Week.

Throughout each week, the initiative engages with student athletes, coaches, school officials and communities across West Virginia. Representatives from the Attorney General’s Office inform the respective coaches as to the dangers of opioid use and provide educational material for display and distribution in the schools to foster more discussion of the issue.

The week culminates with the Attorney General’s Office staffing an information booth at each of the select sporting events to distribute opioid abuse awareness materials.

“Prevention remains key in tackling the devastation wrought by opioid abuse once and for all,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Each week this initiative provides yet another opportunity to present lifesaving information to communities across West Virginia. Without education, addiction can begin with treatment for the most routine of injuries, so it is crucial that we inform everyone — young and old — about the risks of prescription opioids in hopes that added awareness can make the difference in stopping senseless death.”

The initiative, now in its fifth year, is part of a broader partnership to tackle opioid use in high school athletics. It involves the Attorney General’s Office, West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and the West Virginia Board of Medicine.

“We think this partnership is important because it will help bring awareness of the opioid crisis to our students, educators, parents and guardians, and community members,” said Polly Smith, assistant principal and athletic director at Lincoln County. “This collaborative effort between our

school and the West Virginia Office of the Attorney General will help to educate all stakeholders as we attempt to prevent opioid abuse in our community.”

Opioid painkillers may temporarily relieve pain, but do nothing to address the underlying injury and can have serious side effects. The medication also carries striking similarities to heroin.

The Attorney General and his partners worry the unnecessary usage of opioid painkillers to treat athletic injuries could lead to increased dependence, abuse and addiction.

Parents and caregivers are urged to discuss alternative treatment plans with their child’s healthcare provider. Such alternatives include physical, occupational and massage therapy, along with chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and over-the-counter medications.

If an opioid proves necessary, parents and caregivers are encouraged to only use the medication as directed, closely monitor their child’s use, safely dispose of any unused pills and talk about the inherent dangers of misuse, abuse and sharing.

The game between the Vikings and the Panthers on Friday night is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Lions Club Field in Hamlin. LCHS looks to improve to 2-1 on the 2021 season and pick up their first win over Ripley since a 16-10 win in the 2010 season.

HD Media reporter Jarrid McCormick covers sports in Mingo County.

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