Following the murder of a DEA agent in 1985, parents and youth wore red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. Three years later, the National Family Partnership began the Red Ribbon Celebration, which was designed to help promote drug prevention awareness among youth and teens.

This year, Red Ribbon Week falls from October 23–31. In order to prepare, check out some of these facts from a 2016 report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Past year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana has declined to its lowest level in the history of the report. Only 5.4 percent of 8th graders. 9.8 percent of 10th graders, and 14.3 percent of 12th graders reported using illicit drugs in the past year. This is down from 12.6 percent, 18.4 percent, and 21.6 percent in 2001.
  • However, there also seems to be a general decline in the perceived risk of harm and disapproval of using these substances. Fewer 8th graders think that taking Ecstasy or synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”) occasionally is harmful. This trend was also true among 10th graders.
  • Marijuana use also declined among 8th and 10th graders in the past five years, although it remains unchanged among 12th graders. About 6 percent of these students report daily use of marijuana — about 1 in 16 high school seniors.
  • Alcohol, binge drinking, and traditional cigarette use has also been on the decline among students.

To learn more about drug prevention or how you can support Red Ribbon Week, contact your local Substance Abuse Counseling Center.