Area agency promoting drug abuse awareness

STEUBENVILLE – Staff with Jefferson Behavioral Health System distributed red ribbons for children in elementary schools as part of its ongoing effort to educate children and others about the dangers of illegal drug use.

Staff also wore red ribbons themselves for Red Ribbon Week. The week is a national event spurred by the murder of federal Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena by drug cartel members in Mexico in 1985.

In response to Camarena’s death, residents of Calexico, Calif., his hometown, wore red ribbons and a campaign to discourage the demand in America for illegal drugs was born, with the California State PTA among its leaders.

Catherine Sanders, local drug/alcohol prevention mental health educator, said the agency distributed red ribbons at Steubenville elementary schools and has worked with staff there to educate children about drug abuse through the Too Good for Drugs program.

It also teamed with the Jefferson County Opiate Drug Task Force to collect discarded, unused prescription drugs last weekend at the Hollywood Plaza Shopping Center.

Part of National Drug Take Back Day, it was one of many collections held throughout the nation in an effort to keep potential addictive prescription medications out of the hands of abusers and children.

Sanders said the agency hopes to establish permanent collection points in Steubenville and Toronto in the future.

She said such efforts are important because Jefferson County ranks third in Ohio for deaths caused by opiates.

The private, nonprofit group offers confidential counseling and other assistance to adults and youth dealing with addiction. If operates a 24-hour behavioral health hotline that can be reached at (740) 264-1627.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)