Red Ribbon Week dedicated to drug prevention

Deirdre Dupuis
Sunday, October 10, 2021
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From October 23 through the 31, schools around the nation will observe Red Ribbon Week; the oldest and largest nationwide annual campaign dedicated to drug prevention. This year’s National Red Ribbon Week theme, Drug Free Looks Like Me, will be a reminder that everyday Americans across the country make significant daily contributions to their communities by being the best that they can be because they live drug-free. We celebrate Red Ribbon Week to affirm commitment to living a drug-free life, and we celebrate to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause.

Red Ribbon Week began after the kidnapping, torture, and brutal murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. Agent Camarena had been working undercover in Guadalajara, Mexico, for over four years in which he came very close to capturing the biggest cocaine and marijuana traffickers in the country. Unfortunately, upon coming close to cracking open this drug pipeline, on February 7, 1985, the drug cartel captured Agent Camarena, who was then beaten, tortured, and killed. His body was discovered March 5th 1985, and sadly, Agent Camarena left behind a wife and three children. Shortly after his death, Congressman Duncan Hunter and a friend, Henry Loranzo, organized Red Ribbon Week in honor of Agent Camarena’s sacrifice.

People, especially children, wore red ribbons and pledged to live a life drug free. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan brought it to national attention and now it is celebrated throughout the country.

Today, the Red Ribbon Week celebration brings millions of people together to raise awareness regarding the need for alcohol, drug, tobacco, and violence prevention and treatment services. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States. We celebrate those who live without drugs and those who choose to leave drugs behind and live drug-free. We honor Agent Camarena’s sacrifices and others like him.

Red Ribbon Week gives us the opportunity to be vocal and visible in our efforts to achieve a drug-free community. Through Agent Camarena’s selfless devotion to combat the drugs pouring into our country, we can make a difference as the threat is still very much a negative factor of our society. Together, we can make his loss not be one in vain, but one in which we carry the torch into the future in his honor. Join us in showing your support for Red Ribbon Week, and let the memory of Agent Camarena be with us always.

Visit for more information about Red Ribbon Week or contact Deirdre Dupuis at the Dawson County Health Department at 406-377-5213.