Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s longest running drug abuse prevention campaign and has been going on for over 30 years! Many of us probably remember getting little red ribbons to stick to our shirts each year in school as part of a pledge to live our lives drug free. Having started in 1983, Red Ribbon Week keeps their programming up to date with our society’s ever changing needs.
This year, Red Ribbon Week goes digital like so many of our other events have. Their website is packed with digital tools to use with youth organizations including shareable social media content and even downloadable Zoom backgrounds! Their resource tab also includes a curated list of lesson plan materials and readings to help you get the best possible information about drug abuse prevention.
The pandemic has only fanned the flames of our nation's addiction crisis. Stress, desperation, poverty, and other factors inflamed by the pandemic have led many Americans to turn to drug abuse or return to old habits. This is especially concerning for our youth who may be influenced by this kind of behavior in the adults they trust or who have found further access to drugs during lockdown.
So, what steps can you take to keep the teens in your life safe from Drug Abuse?
Have a Conversation with them. Keep the tone of the talk judgment-free and honest. While even just starting the conversations can be hard, doing so is the first step in identifying yourself as someone they can trust with these sorts of discussions. Find a time in a relaxed environment to speak candidly about the very real temptations and culture of drug usage and the consequences of such.
Secondly, commit to Locking Your Meds and encourage others to do so. According to the Lock Your Meds MEDucation guide, 1,700 children and young adults begin experimenting with prescription drugs each day. Keep your medications in a safe place and only take your own medications as prescribed. Remind teens that just because it came from a doctor, doesn’t mean it's safe. Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern that must be addressed.
Third, Do Your Research! If you want to be a resource to the teens in your life, you must be informed. Be prepared to answer tough questions not just with a “cause I said so” attitude but with facts and statistics. Even if you can’t become an expert, be ready to guide your teen through their own research when they have questions you yourself can’t answer. The Red Ribbon Week website is a great place to start.
We hope this year's Red Ribbon Week inspires you to take action! Check out our website for more information on how our programs address drug abuse and to learn about how you can get involved.
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.