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TRENTON – The Senate approved today legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Health Chairman Joseph F. Vitale that would require the Department of Education to develop an educational fact sheet for distribution to parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders concerning the use and misuse of prescription opioids.

The bill, S-2402, requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop an educational fact sheet that provides information concerning the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event that a student-athlete or cheerleader is prescribed an opioid for a sports-related injury. 

“Each year, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in traffic accidents, and more than three out of five of these deaths involve an opioid,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Ensuring that our student athletes, cheerleaders and their parents are educated about the dangers of opioids and the potential for abuse can help boost prevention efforts.”

Under the bill, school districts and nonpublic schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading programs are required to distribute the fact sheet annually to the parents or guardians of student-athletes and cheerleaders, and to obtain a signed acknowledgement of the receipt of the fact sheet by the students and their parents or guardians.

“The misuse of prescribed opioids, which can lead to addiction, is having devastating effects on our families and communities. Providing our students and families with the tools to start the conversation about the risks of opioid abuse in the event of a sports injury will help beat the problem before it even begins,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic that is claiming the lives of our residents and youth, and prevention education must continue to be a leading part of our efforts.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 44 people die in the US each day from an overdose of painkillers prescribed by doctors. In 2014, 200 million recipes of opium derivatives were made in the US.

The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 39-0 and now it heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

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