A guest blog by Hailey Kanipe, MPH, CPS, ICPS, Prevention Specialist.
This year’s Red Ribbon Week is right around the corner! From October 23rd to the 31st, Red Ribbon Week is a time to encourage young people to make positive decisions and teach them drug refusal skills. This year’s Red Ribbon Week theme is “Be kind to your mind. Live drug-free.”
It is no surprise that healthy people can contribute more to society. While physical health is important, students should also be familiar with the seven other dimensions of wellness — social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, intellectual, and occupational. One easy way to connect this year’s Red Ribbon Week theme to a school program is to talk to students about mental/emotional health and how drug use impacts mental health. Did you know that people with a substance use disorder are more likely to have a mental disorder? Likewise, people with a mental disorder are more likely to experience a substance use disorder. When people have both a substance use disorder and a mental disorder, they are referred to as having a “co-occurring disorder.” According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 9.2 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder (SAMHSA.gov).
As you prepare for Red Ribbon Week, consider teaching your students the “STOP” acronym for drug refusal. Have them memorize it or turn it into a skit! The acronym is simple — if a person asks you if you’d like to try a drug:
When teaching students this acronym, give students several examples of different types of drugs, including e-cigarettes and prescription medications. Discuss why these are also considered drugs! It is also very important to remind students that they don’t have to say anything if they ever feel uncomfortable. They can skip to “P” and walk away. After completing the STOP acronym, students should talk to a trusted adult about the situation. Have students list two to three trusted adults in their lives and remind them of the trusted adults present in their school.
If you are not affiliated with a school but with an organization, consider sharing facts about the negative effects of drugs on your social media accounts during Red Ribbon Week or share posts from participating schools or community partners. If you work in a medical office, share resources with parents or decorate a bulletin board with facts and resources about drugs. Also, with Red Ribbon Week falling on the same week as Halloween, there are so many trunk-or-treats and holiday-themed health fairs where you can get creative and share information about staying drug-free (LRADAC is having our own Halloween health fair – learn more ). It takes a village to protect our students, and Red Ribbon Week is the perfect opportunity for communities to come together around a common cause!
We encourage you to get creative this year as you prepare your school for Red Ribbon Week! There are so many great ideas and programs available for FREE at www.redribbon.org. LRADAC has plenty of brochures and resources to share with schools and organizations who need them. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if we can be of any assistance as you plan for #RedRibbonWeek2023!