How to Keep Your Kids Drug Free as Red Ribbon Week Highlights the Issue Oct. 23-31

BY SANDRA GUY

Family stress continues to run high as the coronavirus Delta variant remains a threat, so this year’s National Red Ribbon Week serves as a reminder to help young people cope in healthy ways.

The Oct. 23-31 event’s theme, Drug Free Looks Like Me™, is aimed at reminding everyone that he or she can contribute to local communities by being the best they can be — drug free. The event is sponsored by the National Family Partnership, formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth.

It’s an especially timely topic, since every state has reported a spike in overdose deaths during the COVID pandemic. One prevailing theme is that today’s drug abuses center around cocaine, methamphetamine, illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, often in combination or in adulterated forms. Overdoses related to prescription opioids and heroin remain high and are increasingly adulterated with illicit fentanyl.

Last year, with schools, youth sports and other programs closed nationwide to slow the coronavirus spread, the rate of drug-related 911 calls for people 20 and younger jumped by 43%, an analysis of emergency response data by Reuters found.

Those rates had remained stable the previous three years at about 25 emergency drug responses per 100,000 calls. During the pandemic, those numbers jumped to more than 37 per 100,000, according to data from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System.

That’s why National Red Ribbon Week raises awareness of drug use and encourages parents, educators, business owners and other community organizations to promote drug-free lifestyles.

“Research shows that children are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs when parents and other role models are clear and consistent in their opposition to drug use and the misuse of prescription drugs,” the organization said in a press release.

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