CHESTER — Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann met with members of the Kent Island High School Sailing team briefly Monday afternoon, Sept. 23, at the Kent Island Yacht Club, where the team practices, to talk about opioid abuse. With September being QAC Goes Purple month to raise awareness of substance abuse, the sheriff is reaching out to all the county high school sports teams to educate the youth about the dangers of prescription medication abuse.
Hofmann said, “We’ve already met with all the coaches at KIHS, inviting them to have me come give a talk of no more than 10 minutes to their athletes. In so doing, I’m asking the team members to wear the QAC Goes Purple shoe laces in their shoes to draw attention to the issue. The shoelaces are a conversation starter. We want students to talk to their peers about why they’re wearing these purple shoe laces and to continue to bring attention to the dangers of opioid abuse.”
“Student athletes have assumed leadership roles in their schools, whether they realize it or not. Their peers look up to them, and will talk to their peers more freely and more easily than to adults sometimes,” Hofmann said. “We want our student athletes to tell their friends in school about the dangers that exist with prescription drug abuse. We all know someone who has been affected by prescription medication abuse.”
KIHS sailing coach Amanda Shepherd was supportive of Hofmann’s efforts to reach student athletes. Shepherd said, “His meeting with the students informs them of the reality that many who struggle with opioid addiction stems from prescription drug abuse, the same prescription drugs that could easily be given due to sports injuries. This gave our student athletes the knowledge to understand what addiction can come from, and should a sports injury occur, they should not be hesitant to ask their provider for alternatives.”
Compared to many counties in Maryland, there have been fewer overdoses and deaths from the opioid crisis here. Of this statistic, Hofmann said, “Long before going purple, we announced an opioid crisis with the health department. I think the commitment of so many community members, businesses, and partners has made this successful.”
Hofmann has already met with several other high school teams, including the Junior Varsity Girls Field Hockey team at Queen Anne’s County High School and the Cross Country team at Kent Island.