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Red Ribbon Week raises awareness to help prevent drug abuse

Posted 10/24/2012   Updated 10/24/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


10/24/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- Several base agencies are teaming up to show their commitment to a healthy, drug free life and want others to do the same during Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23 through 31.

The Drug Demand Reduction Program in conjunction with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program are using this special week to increase awareness about drugs and drug abuse in hopes of making sure schools, workplaces and communities are drug free.

"This is an annual event that DoD and many law enforcement agencies support to bring the focus on drugs, drug abuse and the terrible cost that they have on our country," said Paul Howell, DDRP manager. "Professionals that combat it daily hope to steer people way from this life destroying path."

According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's national survey on drug use and health, an estimated 3.1 million people ages 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. This averages to about 8,400 initiates per day.
Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2011, there were 18.1 million past month users. Between 2007 and 2011, the rate of use increased from 5.8 to 7 percent, and the number of users increased from 14.5 million to 18.1 million.

Also in 2011, 9.4 million people ages 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year, the rate was highest among young adults ages 18 to 25 at 11.6 percent. Last year, an estimated 22.5 million Americans ages 12 or older were current, or past month, illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview.

Illicit drugs include marijuana or hashish, cocaine and crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription-type psychotherapeutics such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, used non-medically.

Red Ribbon Week traces its roots to 1985 when Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" S. Camarena was kidnapped and killed while working in Mexico.

Shortly after his death, Congressman Duncan Hunter and high school friend Henry Lozano launched Camarena Clubs in Camarena's hometown of Calexico, Calif. Hundreds of club members wore red ribbons and pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Camarena and others on behalf of all Americans.

In 1988, the campaign was formalized, with President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan serving as honorary chairpersons.

Now, the eight-day celebration is sponsored by the National Family Partnership. More than 80 million young people and adults show their commitment to a healthy, drug-free life by wearing or displaying the Red Ribbon.

"You can never start too early to talk to your children about drugs and the dangers they pose," said Howell. "If you don't give them the real information early on, then that's putting them at risk. By the time they start elementary school you can bet that they are hearing things from other kids around them, music and the media, and that information may not be accurate or may not even be in their best interest. For the most part, they are bombarded with a glamorized vision of drugs and drug abuse."

DDRP will be handing out ribbons, information sheets and prevention items and answering drug and substance abuse related questions throughout the week.

For more information about DDRP, call 781-225-6367 or 781-225-6368. For information about prevention or treatment, call ADAPT at 781- 225-6392. For questions concerning the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, contact the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at 781-225-5861 or the 66th Security Forces Squadron at 781-225-5624.



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