National Red Ribbon Week: Drug abuse is everyone’s problem

National Red Ribbon Week: Drug abuse is everyone’s problem

National Red Ribbon Week is observed the last week of October in response to the 1985 murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico.

His death angered parents and youth in communities across the country and they began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America.

It is the largest, most visible drug prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.  

While Red Ribbon Week was initially to bring awareness to illegal drugs, today prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. Nonmedical prescription drug use is the defining drug problem of the 21st Century. 

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), recently said, “Prescription drug abuse is a silent epidemic that is stealing thousands of lives and tearing apart communities and families across America.”  

The death toll from overdoses of prescription opiates has more than tripled in the past decade. 

Thomas Frieden, M.D., MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently stated that “overdoses involving prescription painkillers are at epidemic levels and now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.”  

Whether it is prescription or illicit drug abuse, Red Ribbon Week is a time for everyone to be cognizant that no matter what kind of drug abuse it is, it is everyone’s problem.  

For more information and a better understanding and awareness of substances, visit the National Institute of Drug Abuse/National Institute of Health at or Drug Free World at 

For assistance with substance abuse issues, military can call the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (ADAPT) at 801-777-7909 and civilians can call the Employee Assistance Program at 800-222-0364.

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