National Red Ribbon Week - Last Week in October
(Last Updated On: November 9, 2022)


Every year during the last week in October, the country comes together for National Red Ribbon Week. This weeklong observance is considered the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation. The campaign focuses on the mission of keeping kids drug-free.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared a “War on Drugs.” He stated that drug abuse was “public enemy number one.” During the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan expanded many of the policies Nixon had put into place. In 1984, Nancy Reagan began her campaign, “Just Say No” to drugs. The Red Ribbon campaign joined the fight against drugs in 1985.

In the years following, there continued to be much education and awareness about the dangers of drugs. Some would say these campaigns have been successful in reaching the youth. In 1997, about 43 percent of adolescents had used illicit drugs at some point in their life. In 2019, this number had gone down to 35 percent of adolescents. However, while drug use among adolescents has declined, the number of drug overdose deaths is on the rise.

Another troubling statistic is that more adolescents are abusing prescription drugs. In 2014, more than 5,700 adolescents misused prescription drugs. These prescription drugs include stimulants, opioids, and depressants.

To help curb these statistics, parents are encouraged to talk to their kids about drugs. They are also encouraged to be positive role models for their children. Parent involvement is one of the most effective ways to keep kids drug-free. Parents should also realize the signs their child is abusing drugs. Some of these signs include mood swings, memory problems, weight changes, evasive answers to questions, and abandoning social activities. The sooner a parent recognizes their child has a drug problem, the easier it can be to help them.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalRedRibbonWeek

The best way to observe this week is to wear a red ribbon. Other ways to participate include:

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of drugs.
  • Encourage your child to make a drug-free pact with their friends.
  • Help your child plan a red ribbon rally at their school.
  • Learn about people who have overcome their drug addiction and went on to succeed in life.
  • Watch movies about addiction and recovery, such as “Rush,” “Basketball Diaries,” and “Home Run.”
  • Find role models for your children, such as sports stars and celebrities who are against drug abuse.

Spread awareness for this important week on social media with #NationalRedRibbonWeek


The nonprofit organization, National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth formed in 1980. The organization later changed its name to National Family Partnership (NFP). As a grassroots organization consisting of parents, their goal is to nurture the full potential of drug-free youth. In 1985, drug traffickers kidnapped, tortured and murdered Drug Enforcement Agent, Enrique Camarena in Mexico. The violent act angered many parents and youth throughout the nation. To help raise awareness about the destruction caused by drugs, they wore red ribbons. This event was considered the first Red Ribbon campaign. In 1988, the NFP sponsored the country’s first weeklong National Red Ribbon Celebration. Since then, National Red Ribbon Week has been held every year during the last week in October.


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