TEXAS, USA — On Monday, San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter proclaimed the week of Oct 23-31 as Red Ribbon Week.
The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council for the Concho Valley (ADACCV) CCP director Jennifer Flores held an event for TLCA Middle School students and gave the history behind Red Ribbon Week.
It started after the death of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who in 1985, was murdered by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico.
After Camarena's death, people started wearing red ribbons to honor his sacrifice. Today, millions of people celebrate Red Ribbon Week by wearing red ribbons, participating in community anti-drug events and pledging to live drug-free lives.
“We hold this event every year advising young children to stay away from drugs and alcohol and live a substance free life,” Flores said.
This year, the campaign's slogan is “Drug Free Looks like Me”.
Gunter attended the event and said even abusing prescribed medication can have a long-lasting and negative affect on you or a loved one's lives.
One substance some call a small epidemic is the growing popularity of e-cigarettes. Some may assume vaping is a safe substitute to using drugs or alcohol, but Jefferey Pearce, Texas A&M Alcohol and Other Drugs Awareness Program coordinator, says vaping can have negative lasting impacts just like any other substance.
“People say e-cigarettes are just more convenient and more healthy because most don't have any tobacco in them but they’re wrong. Vapes contain nicotine which can be addictive and can attack your lungs. We recommend people to also stay away from e-cigarettes for these and many other reasons,” Pearce said.
According to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration survey, more than five million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Pearce recommended anyone who needs support with quitting drug, alcohol or vaping abuse to use ‘This is Quitting,’ a free and anonymous text messaging program from the Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit substance abuse.
To raise awareness, many local schools have Spirit Weeks during Red Ribbon Week to encourage the 'drug free' initiative and keep students informed.
The healthy alternative suggested for children and adults to follow when facing thoughts of drug or alcohol abuse is to exercise, find a fun hobby to occupy your time or simply talk to a friend you trust about your struggle.