“Red Ribbon Week” kicks off with videos from those in recovery

Beckley, WV (WOAY) —“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” An old proverb that still speaks truth today and exactly what the Raleigh County Prevention Coalition is striving for: to keep kids drug free by making them aware of the dangers and consequences of drug and alcohol use before they ever begin to experiment with it.

Partnering with individuals, businesses, and a wide array of organizations including Brian’s Safehouse, FMRS, and One Voice, the Coalition is participating in Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide campaign for prevention of substance use disorders which goes from October 23 – 31.

This week, the Raleigh County Prevention Coalition will be sharing on social media videos, photos, and words of wisdom from those recovering from substance use disorders. These will be posted on their publicly visible Facebook group of the same name. Students Against Destructive Decisions will also be sharing on their public Facebook group, “SADD Raleigh County Chapter.” Digital advertising and Public Service Announcements on radio will be part of the campaign, as well.

Dawana Sizemore, Community Outreach Liaison for Appalachian Regional Hospital, is encouraging everyone to watch, like, and share the posts. “Let’s use these experienced voices of recovery to start important conversations. Our Coalition understands and values the important voice of experience from persons in recovery, especially in prevention efforts,” she explained. “We wanted to invite those voices to be part of our important prevention efforts for Red Ribbon Week.”

The recovery community was invited to share their answers to the question, “What do you wish someone would have told you about substance use when you were a kid/teen?”
Leslie Pease, Communications Director with Brian’s Safehouse, recorded some of the residents answering that question. “It is heartbreaking to hear their answers, to realize what they’ve lost because they began experimenting with drugs or alcohol when they were only 10 or 11 years old—long before they could comprehend the consequences.”

Without exception, members of the recovery community want kids to know how devastating it is to play with drugs and alcohol and want them to not even start.
In addition to the personal devastation of substance use, Pease cites the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report that states, “Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs (exacts) more than $740 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work, productivity, and health care.”

“It is infinitely better to prevent individuals from falling into addiction than to try to get them out of it,” Pease said. “To spare people the heartache and loss, to never have gone there in the first place, that would be ideal.”

COVID-19 has affected the campaign this year, making in-person events impossible, but the goals are still the same. Sizemore says, “We hope that parents, family, teachers, spiritual leaders, peers, etc. will take those words of wisdom being shared and use them to discuss substance use with the youth in their lives.”