FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Senator Dan Sullivan attended a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on the health and safety of athletes, including issues of opioid abuse.
Sullivan said that with front page news of a massive spike in heroin overdoses in the Anchorage area, Alaskans are rightly concerned about the progress being made against the crisis affecting many communities and families.
Among the witnesses was Dr. Jay Butler, Alaska's chief medical officer.
In the hearing, Butler said athletes have not been immune to the opioid epidemic, and that the effective response to the problem will involve coaches, parents, trainers, and the athletes themselves, along with health care providers, the criminal justice system, educators, and lawmakers.
"Unfortunately, athletes have not been immune to the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic," said Butler. "Too often, sports related injuries are managed with opioid pain relievers, have been the beginning to the path of addiction. One coach expressed her frustration to me by describing she had seen too many times, an injury leading to a prescription for pills, leading to additional prescriptions for pills, leading to the use of a friend's pills, leading to use of any pills that can be obtained by any means, and sometimes, unfortunately leading to the use of heroin and overdose deaths."