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Guest Column: ITAC: Red Ribbon Week: Oct 23-31

Red Ribbon Week takes place every year from October 23-31 and is the nation’s largest and longest-running drug-use prevention campaign. This year the theme is “Celebrate Life. Live Drug Free.” Red Ribbon Week (RRW) inspires our kids to be happy and drug-free.

ITAC celebrates RRW by sharing information with our youth and the community about drug and alcohol prevention. Things like how to talk to your children about the subject (or teens how to talk to your parents), how to stay safe, healthy, and make positive choices and ways we can all work together to reduce underage substance use.

Teens whose parents regularly talk to them about drugs are 42 percent less likely to use them than those that don’t. Only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. Even if you don’t think your child wants to drink or try other drugs, peer pressure is a powerful thing. Having a plan to avoid alcohol and drug use can help children make better choices. Talk with your teen about what they would do if faced with a decision about alcohol and drugs, and make a plan with them on how to say no or how to get out of the situation.

You may have seen on TV or online recently a prevention campaign called “Talk. They Hear You” from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services). This campaign aims to reduce underage drinking and other substance use among youths under the age of 21 by providing parents and caregivers with the information and resources they need to address these issues with their children early and often. You can find more tips and conversation starters on their website at samhsa.gov/talk-they-hear-you.

If you have younger children, it’s not too soon! In some ways, the sooner the better. You can start by talking to them about the drugs they see every day – perhaps even the ones they take every day. Young kids need to know that medications and vitamins can be bad for you if you take too much, or if it’s not meant for you. Keep prescription medicines locked away and tell your kids never to take anything that might be a drug or a vitamin without their caregivers’ permission.

Visit and like/follow our Facebook page at “ITAC – It Takes a Community” for ongoing tips, resources and videos to watch with your kids.

This column was put together by the ITAC – It Takes a Community staff.

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