Counselor Spotlight: Red Ribbon Conversations

PCA will soon join schools across the nation in celebrating Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is a weeklong campaign focused on drug and alcohol use and prevention among students. Its origin is the result of a community who rallied together after the murder of a local D.E.A. agent who was investigating cocaine and marijuana traffickers. Upon hearing the news, his community covered the town with red ribbons. The awareness spread throughout the state, and eventually caught the attention of First Lady Mrs. Nancy Reagan. It became an official campaign in 1988 and is now Red Ribbon Week is observed by the majority of schools in America. 

Substance abuse in America has taken many forms over the years. A generation ago parents didn’t particularly worry about their children sniffing nail polish remover or breaking down bath bombs to inhale chemicals that provide a temporary high. Alcohol and marijuana are the drugs most commonly linked to teens, but today it seems that with every news broadcast there is a new drug trend among students, and it’s inevitably stronger and more dangerous than yesterday’s drug fad. While we can’t possibly know everything about every drug trend, we can ensure that children know our expectations as parents. 

As we approach Red Ribbon Week, use this as an opportunity to have intentional discussions with your children. Below are a few ideas to get the conservation started at your house. 

  • Why do you think some teens abuse drugs and alcohol? If you asked them, what reasons would they give for abusing these substances? 
  • Let’s think into the future and you have a teenager the same age as you are now. What would you say to him or her about drinking and drugs?
  • When you feel down or stressed, what do you do to feel better? Sometimes people use drugs or alcohol to avoid difficult feelings. What are some healthier options?
  • It’s the weekend and you’ve got plans with some friends! After being picked up and arriving at the party, your friend starts smoking a joint or popping pills. What are your options? What would you do?
  • Have you ever seen anyone using alcohol or drugs make a fool of themselves? What happened? How would you feel if it were you?
  • Name two things you would like to accomplish by the time you graduate high school. How could drugs and alcohol use get in the way of those goals?

In addition to keeping the lines of communication open with these seemly casual conversations, use these discussion topics as a chance to involve children in the establishment of family boundaries and consequences as it relates to substance abuse. Remember! These discussions shouldn’t be lectures on what’s right and wrong, but more everyday conversations that keep the lines of communication open so your child will feel comfortable coming to you to ask sensitive questions.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact PCA’s guidance counselors Pat Dean or Lisa Reid.

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