Friday nights are always jam-packed with high school football in the Four-State, but one of the games in West Virginia this Friday has a special twist to raise awareness on the heroin epidemic in the state. 

Experts said there is a connection between painkillers and a heroin addiction.

“The studies that show that once these kids, these high school athletes, got hooked, they were four times as likely to go on heroin,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

So Morrisey hosts Opioid Abuse Prevention Games of the Week to spread that message.

This week, he’s coming right here to the Eastern Panhandle when the Musselman Appleman host the Washington Patriots.

“Everyone knows the face of substance abuse,” Morrisey said. “People know that whether you’re rich, whether you’re poor, whether you live in Jefferson County or Kanawha County, you know people that are impacted by this terrible epidemic.”

At the games, Morrisey and his office set-up a booth to talk to local residents about the dangers of opioids.

“There’s a real gap in terms of a lot of the educational efforts, generally, but also there is a need to ensure that high school athletes know about the perils of substance abuse,” Morrisey said.

Morrisey said making the link between these high school athletes and opioid abuse information is vital.

“We found a number of studies that show that a lot of high school athletes, when they were getting hurt or going on opioids, that was a real pathway to heroin and that’s a serious problem,” said Morrisey. 

The Attorney General urged that there are better ways actually to treat injuries than opioids, like physical therapy or even non-opioid painkillers.

He said that three-quarters of high school heroin users started with a prescription opioid.