It’s the 29th year for Red Ribbon Week, from October 23-31, 2014, the nation’s largest and oldest drug prevention campaign in the U.S. This year’s theme is “Love Yourself, Be Drug Free.” The ribbon movement began in 1985 by a community in California committed to keep the memory alive of a murdered federal drug agent. National Family Partnership, (formerly National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth established in 1980), went on to adopt the red ribbon as a symbol of NFP’s commitment to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs and alcohol as well as tobacco, which could be considered a gateway drug.
A gateway drug is one that is easy to get, that leads the user to possibly use more dangerous illicit drugs in the future. Tobacco would be considered in this category because it is easily available for adolescents, and legal for those over 18 to purchase. In a national survey, researchers found that over 90% of adult drug users “between the ages of 18 and 34 were cigarette smokers before they began using drugs. The changes in the brain from nicotine is one reason tobacco users seem to be more susceptible to certain drug addiction.
The Red Ribbon Campaign not only teaches students about drug prevention, but also helps inform parents about their other program called Lock Your Meds. It urges parents to lock up all prescription medication to reduce prescription drug abuse among children. You can find out more about the program by clicking the highlighted link.
Teaching students about the dangers of tobacco, as well as other drugs, helps students to make healthy decisions through their life. Our teachers and schools make a difference in the lives of our students, and Red Ribbon Week is a great start to opening dialog between students, teachers and their parents about drug prevention.