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It’s that time of the year when we all start seeing red. I’m not talking about the Cardinals in post-season (although that does mean more red – Go Cards!) I am talking about Red Ribbon Week. This year, Red Ribbon Week is October 23-31. This special week signifies a drug free lifestyle and healthy living. With Red Ribbon Week fast approaching, I wanted to be sure to write about a few related items in this week’s Penny’s Two Cents.
The Drug and Alcohol Reduction Team (DART) of Lincoln County is making great strides in our community and in our schools. Lincoln County R-III has seen a decrease in synthetic drug use among our students and an increased awareness surrounding the dangers of using synthetics. Our coordinated efforts with law enforcement, juvenile, schools, treatment and prevention providers have not only resulted in a decrease of synthetic drugs, but also closed the local store that was selling synthetic drugs in the community.
In late August, US Congressman Blaine Leuktemeyer and Missouri Representative Ed Schieffer met with members of DART to discuss our progress as a community wide organization, the lack of a prescription drug monitoring system for Missouri and funding. Our group is working on educating the public on prescription drugs, making it harder for youth to access and looking towards policy changes to ensure prosecution for persons distributing prescription drugs. Thanks to the National Guard, DART is currently in the mode of strategic planning.
As you can read, DART has been busy this year, but DART isn’t able to ensure each student or child in our community chooses a drug free lifestyle. The simple fact is kids are exposed at younger ages with each passing year, so it’s no surprise they are experimenting at younger ages, too. According the 2012 Lincoln County Youth Drug & Alcohol Needs Assessment, 46.8 percent of high school students (grades 9-12 grade) believe it is “very easy” to obtain prescription drugs while nearly 14 percent of sixth grade students believe the same. Nearly 1,700 public and private school students in sixth, ninth and twelfth grade in our Lincoln County schools participated in this needs assessment. The survey assessed behaviors, knowledge and perceptions of various drugs and is available on our website under “Community.”
The best tool you have at your disposal to help your child stay away from drugs is to be involved in their everyday life. I saw great involvement at all levels during Homecoming from participants and community businesses marching in the parade to spectators that came to watch the parade as a family. According to www.DrugandAlcoholRehab.net, children with parents and friends who are involved in their lives are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol. That involvement can not only decrease your child’s potential interaction with drugs, but your involvement also provides ample opportunity for insightful conversations with your child or children.
Stay tuned to Penny’s Two Cents and the Lincoln County Journal as DART hits the bulls-eye on more of their targets as a grassroots community initiative.