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Red Ribbon Week 2022

October 11, 2022

Schools across the United States annually hold Red Ribbon Week activities to promote a drug-free lifestyle and positive decision-making among youth. This year’s Red Ribbon Week is October 23rd-31st. During this time, schools often have themes of the day over the week, have students sign pledges, and pass out red ribbons and other themed prizes. While this week has been recognized in schools for years, very few people know how and why Red Ribbon Week began.

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History of the Red Ribbon Campaign

“Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. When he decided to join the US Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out of it. “I’m only one person,” he told her, “but I want to make a difference.” On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent’s side and shoved him into a car. One month later, Camarena’s body was found. He had been tortured to death. In honor of Camarena’s memory and battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began wearing red satin badges. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red ribbon. In 1988, National Family Partnership (NFP) sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration. Today, the Red Ribbon catalyzes to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities” (

2022 Red Ribbon Campaign Theme

This year’s Red Ribbon Week theme is “Celebrate Life. Live Drug-Free.” Sadly, the effects of addiction claim the lives of thousands of people across the nation every year. But guess what? Addiction is preventable! The best way to prevent addiction is to raise awareness about the effects of Substance Use Disorders in our communities and talk to our children early and often about substance misuse. Research shows that the longer we can delay substance use among youth, the less likely they will experience problems with a substance use disorder later in life. As a society, we face so much uncertainty, fear, and even division at times, especially over the past few years. Often, communities don’t come together to strive for change until after the death of a community member or an unfortunate situation. As Red Ribbon Week approaches this year, I encourage you to consider how you can integrate Red Ribbon Week themes year-round in the areas you impact, whether in schools, churches, community groups, or just at home with your children. Due to the immense stigma around substance misuse and addiction, speaking to others about these topics can be challenging. However, having regular and intentional conversations about these topics will bring more awareness to our communities about these issues and inspire community members to work towards change. Below are several suggestions for prevention activities that are useful at home, school, and churches. Additional resources related to Red Ribbon Week can be found at!

Red Ribbon Campaign Activities

  • Plan intentional conversations with your children over dinner once a month. Have your children help you prepare the meal!
  • Take your children out for ice cream after school and discuss their friends and interests. Discuss your family values and remind your children that you are always available to talk if they need you.
  • Bring up news topics with your children. Ask them what they think about the issues. Did {person} make the right decision in their situation? What could they have done instead? What consequences are they facing as a result of their actions?
  • Plan Red Ribbon Week activities for your school! There are many great activities, from themed days of the week to school assemblies. No need to reinvent the wheel. Pinterest has tons of great ideas!
  • Integrate drug prevention into health, history, and science. There are so many ways to do this that are interesting, engaging, and appropriate for different grade levels. Need help? Contact LRADAC’s Prevention Team at 803.726.9351.
  • Share videos or host speakers during lunchtime to promote positive decision-making.
  • Invite a speaker to share their recovery story or talk with youth about drug prevention.
  • Host a health fair for the community and include drug treatment and recovery resources.
  • Host a family night where parents are encouraged to discuss values with their children over dinner.

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.