What is Red Ribbon Week? and How One Man Inspired It

Maybe you’ve heard of Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 23 – 31) but are not really sure what it is or why so many people wear those bright red ribbons pinned to their collar all week long. Well, there’s a lot more to the week-long awareness campaign than meets the eye. As recovery professionals and activists, our team at NBH helps to spread the message of recovery and hope all over the nation. 

Since 1985, Red Ribbon Week has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, communities across the country began wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America.

Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent’s side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena’s body was found. He had been tortured to death.

In honor of Camarena’s memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin. Parents began forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red ribbon.

Today, Red Ribbon Week serves to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention programs and encourages individuals to seek treatment when faced with addiction and substance abuse. The campaign has reached millions of U.S. children and families. The National Family Partnership (NFP) and its network delivers a message of hope to millions of people every year, through the National Red Ribbon campaign. 

Celebrate Red Ribbon Week in your community or your child’s school, and raise awareness of living a drug free life. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids about drugs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, our caring staff at NBH can help you confidentially 24/7. Vist our website or give us a call. 

About Niznik Behavioral Health

Niznik Behavioral Health is a national provider of drug and alcohol addiction treatment for adolescents and adults with Joint Commission accredited facilities specializing in a full continuum of care including safe and comfortable medical detox programs, residential treatment, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and outpatient (OP) services, as well as assistance with aftercare through our Alumni programs. 


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