Red Ribbon Week in October – Drug Free America
October 23 – 31, 2018
“Life is Your Journey, Travel Drug-Free”
Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign that takes place every October to promote a drug-free America, and is now in it’s 25th year.
The movement was born out of the tragic death of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was killed in the line of duty.
Individuals and communities, alike, embraced the red ribbon as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness around the consequences of drug abuse.
During the week of October 23 – 31, 2018, the Red Ribbon Campaign will promote the theme “Life is Your Journey, Travel Drug-Free” through a series of national and local events.
Drug abuse continues to be one of the nation’s most pressing issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2017 – was among the most deadly, with more than 72,000 people dying from drug-related overdose.
The vast majority of these deaths were opioid related, drugs like prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl.
What are the Goals for Red Ribbon Week?
The goals for organizers of Red Ribbon Week are straightforward and simple. They include the following:
- Raising awareness is the key “to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities”
- Helping people advocate for responsible drug prevention policies on a local, state and national level
- Providing resources and literature to partner organizations about how to safely secure medications in the home, keys to safe parties for kids, as well tool kits for how hold Red Ribbon Week events or become a Red Ribbon Certified school
Reducing the Stigma About Addiction Encourages People to Seek Help
While awareness and education are effective in steering children away from drug abuse, it’s also important to reduce the stigma associated with dependency or addiction to drugs and alcohol.
In most cases, chronic substance abuse is a sign of a deeper psychological and mental health issues.
A person struggling with depression or anxiety is more likely than a person without these issues to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, which can lead to addiction.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, that sustained substance abuse leads to emotional and mental health issues.
Whether an addiction began because of mental health issues, or was the outcome from trying to escape depression and other issues, the only thing that matters is seeing help.
Professionals in the addiction treatment and mental health fields don’t judge others about their situation and really do want to help. Many have been in the same situation previously in their own lives and they fully understand how it feels to be in pain and how much better it is to recover.
Treating Addiction and Mental Health
Treatment for addiction and mental health problems, which is known as a dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, addresses each issue and identifies how these issues are intertwined.
Physical addiction to alcohol or drugs, like opioids, often requires a person to detox in a safe and medically supervised inpatient treatment facility before beginning drug or alcohol rehab treatment.
Only after a physical dependence has been brought under control, either by time sober or with medications, can a patient start to address their mental health issues through one-on-one counseling or group therapy.
Additional tools, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), help patients bridge the gap between their mental and physical choices by learning to spot triggers, overcome cravings and make healthier lifestyle choices.
During Red Ribbon Week, make a point of volunteering at events or take the time to learn more about drug abuse and addiction and how it affects not just a single person, but their families, friends and the entire community.
Spread the message that there is no shame in addiction and that if a person needs help, all they need to do is ask.
Abstinence is the always the best way to remain drug-free. But for those who have become dependent on drugs or alcohol, treatment is available to recover and become drug-free again.
Get Smart About Drugs has more information and resources for parents, teachers, and organizers who want to participate in Red Ribbon Week.
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