What is Red Ribbon Week?

Published on Oct 25, 2023 | 2:32 PM

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Originally a local celebration honoring the life of  Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent Enrique S. Camarena, Red Ribbon Week grew to become a national movement in 1985 when it was brought to the attention of then First Lady Nancy Reagan before being formalized in 1988 by the National Family Partnership. (1) Now, Red Ribbon Week is celebrated annually from October 23rd to the 31st to spread awareness about drug use prevention, education, and advocacy for drug-free communities.

What is Red Ribbon Week in schools? 

As a part of the national campaign, Red Ribbon Week in schools is an annual, week-long campaign focusing on drug and alcohol abuse prevention. During this week, participating schools and institutions organize a variety of activities and events to raise awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and to encourage students to make healthy choices. These activities can include classroom discussions, assemblies, guest speakers, art and essay contests, wearing red ribbons, and engaging in community service projects related to drug prevention. Red Ribbon Week in schools serves as a valuable opportunity for educators and students to come together to address the issue of drug abuse and emphasize the importance of living a drug-free life. It helps create a supportive and educational environment to empower students with the knowledge and motivation to make responsible decisions regarding substance use.

How do you participate in Red Ribbon Week?

According to RedRibbon.org, participating in Red Ribbon Week is relatively straightforward and can involve various activities and efforts to promote drug and alcohol abuse prevention and education. Here are some ways to participate: 

  • Wear Red: A common way to participate is by wearing red ribbons, wristbands, or clothing during the week. Red serves as a symbol of commitment to a drug-free lifestyle.
  • Educational Activities: Schools, community organizations, and individuals can organize educational activities. These may include classroom discussions, guest speakers, and workshops to inform people about the risks of substance abuse.
  • Awareness Campaigns: Create and share posters, banners, or social media posts that highlight the importance of drug prevention and Red Ribbon Week.
  • Pledge Drives: Encourage people to take drug-free pledges or sign commitment banners as a public declaration of their dedication to a drug-free lifestyle.
  • Art and Essay Contests: Organize art or essay competitions centered around the theme of drug prevention. This allows students and community members to express their thoughts on the topic.
  • Community Events: Host community events like parades, walks, or fairs to bring people together and raise awareness about the campaign.
  • Community Service: Engage in community service projects related to drug prevention and education, such as volunteering at local organizations dedicated to substance abuse recovery.
  • Parent and Family Involvement: Encourage parents and families to participate by discussing drug prevention with their children and attending school activities.
  • Promote Resources: Share information about local resources for those seeking help with substance abuse issues.
  • Year-Round Commitment: Remember that drug prevention efforts should extend beyond just one week. Encourage a commitment to a drug-free lifestyle year-round.

Call-On-Doc not only works to bring affordable and easy-to-use healthcare options to Americans across the country, but we also work with multiple different charities to provide services to those who need them. Not only are we devoted to making people feel better, but we also want our community to be a safe place for everyone to get involved. Learn more about how you can participate and bring the conversation home from school at redribbon.org!


“The History of Red Ribbon Week.” DEA.gov, https://www.dea.gov/red-ribbon/kiki-red-ribbon-history.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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