It’s Red Ribbon Week, Substance Abuse Prevention Month

By Cindy Schultz
Special to The PREVIEW

The Pagosa Springs Town Council and the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners each proclaimed October as Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBHD) presented the proclamation, which outlined national substance abuse statistics: about 8.2 percent of those 12 years and older had a substance use disorder; about 5.2 percent of those are young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

A substance use disorder is defined by criteria specified by the American Psychiatric Association to assess dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs. While these statistics may sound alarming, much research and work has been done in understanding substance use disorders (SUD) and the link between SUDs and mental health, together referred to as behavioral health.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supports preventing behavioral health problems with a message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

This proclamation also marked the beginning of Red Ribbon Week sponsored by National Family Partnership. The Red Ribbon Project is the largest, community-based youth drug prevention program working on awareness and advocacy as well as providing resources.

SJBHD recognizes the need and the opportunity in our community and operates health policy and systems under grants from the Office of Behavioral Health and the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Program to fund prevention work in Archuleta and La Plata Counties.

We work in collaboration with community partners and support the Celebrating Healthy Communities coalition.

We are recognizing Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31, and October as Substance Abuse Prevention Month to raise awareness that substance abuse remains a concern for families, regardless of race, religion, income, education or family status.

Prevention, treatment and recovery provide a foundation of hope necessary for our education and awareness efforts to work in our community.

While a great deal of progress has been made, more needed work continues in the community. The Health Department’s current programs focus on activities and outreach to help our youth thrive.

To learn more about our programs, or for information on the Coalition, call 335-2047 or go to http://sjbhd.org/?p=163.

This story was posted on October 30, 2014.