DEA Supports Healthy, Drug-free Lives with 2022 Red Ribbon Campaign

Campaign Aims to Create Conversations Around Law Enforcement and Mental Health

WASHINGTON – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration launched its annual Red Ribbon Campaign – the nation’s largest drug prevention effort – on October 23 to unite communities across the country in the shared goal of preventing drug use and addiction. This year’s theme, “Celebrate Life. Live Drug Free,” reminds all Americans that living a drug-free lifestyle contributes greatly to the safety and health of their communities.

“October is an important month for the men and women of DEA as we visit communities and schools to encourage young people to live healthy, drug-free lifestyles in honor of fallen Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Education around the dangers of fentanyl and fake pills is more important than ever. I encourage everyone to join us in our celebration of Red Ribbon Week.”

The National Red Ribbon Campaign honors the life of Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was tortured and brutally murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico in March 1985.

The campaign is dedicated to furthering the cause for which Special Agent Camarena gave his life: the fight against the drug crime.

Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, California, and soon gained momentum across California and then the rest of the country. The National Family Partnership turned Red Ribbon Week into a national drug awareness campaign, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by then President and Mrs. Reagan.

Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events every year.

A virtual National Red Ribbon Rally is available at www.dea.gov/redribbon and www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com, in which Administrator Milgram delivers the keynote remarks.

During the rally, DEA also recognizes the winners of the 2022 DEA Community Drug Prevention Awards and the Red Ribbon Visual Arts Contest winners. Additional highlights include remarks by 14-year NFL veteran Antoine Bethea; a virtual color guard by the College Park, Maryland Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol; a performance by the Drug-Free Baltimore Coalition Youth Collaboration; and musical performances by the Osbourn Park High School Madrigal Singers from Manassas, Virginia.

As part of the Red Ribbon Week campaign, DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are sponsoring the 7th Annual Red Ribbon Campus Video PSA Contest. To learn more, visit www.campusdrugprevention.gov/psacontest. DEA is also a co-sponsor of the National Family Partnership’s 12th annual Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest. For more information, visit www.redribbon.org.

In addition to the rally, DEA and Discovery Education are offering educators new digital resources to address the dangers associated with fentanyl and fake pills as part of Operation Prevention. The new science-based lesson plan and videos equip students in grades 9–12 with an understanding of what fentanyl and fake pills are and why they are so harmful to individuals and communities. To access these resources, visit www.operationprevention.com.

For a toolkit of Red Ribbon materials and more information, visit the Red Ribbon Campaign page on www.dea.gov/redribbon.

Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985.  In honor of  Kiki’s memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin.  Parents then began to form coalitions using Camarena as their model while embracing his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the Red Ribbon. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.

The Presidential Proclamation on National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, 2022

During National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, we rededicate ourselves to transforming the lives of America’s youth through prevention.  We commit to building and supporting communities where young Americans can live healthy and fulfilling lives, free from the dangers of substance use, laying the groundwork for strong future generations.

Our country has been battered by twin crises in recent years:  an overdose epidemic and COVID-19.  Last year, a record 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, ripping a hole in families across every community in the Nation.  More than a thousand of those who died were teenagers — sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and friends who still had their whole lives ahead of them.  We cannot let that continue.  My Administration is drawing on evidence-based strategies to prevent substance use and to intervene early so we can help keep America’s young people healthy and safe.  We are supporting programs that teach young people about the risks of drug and alcohol use — including the dangers of illicit fentanyl and counterfeit pills — and about the life-saving power of naloxone.

Preventing substance use during adolescence has been shown to significantly reduce the chance of developing a substance use disorder later in life.  For every dollar we spend today on effective school-based prevention programs, we save $18 in the future by avoiding potential medical costs and boosting productivity on the job.  Prevention programs also make young people less likely to one day have children who use substances, highlighting the far-reaching value these efforts have across generations.

Americans can all agree that this work is critical –- irrespective of their political party affiliation.  That is why I made beating the opioid epidemic — our Nation’s most deadly drug use crisis — a pillar of the bipartisan Unity Agenda that I unveiled in this year’s State of the Union.  I know that together, with resources and smart policy, we can overcome it.  Last year, we invested nearly $4 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to expand mental health and substance use services and to help school districts increase the number of social workers on staff by as much as 54 percent.  My Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposes $3.1 billion in National Drug Control funding for prevention, nearly $850 million more than last year.  We have already provided more than $120 billion for quality tutoring, mental health, and afterschool programs.  We are supporting Drug-Free Communities coalitions in all 50 States, giving local communities the tools and resources to address their own youth substance use issues in ways that are culturally appropriate.  We are working to ensure that States leverage Medicaid funding to support schools providing mental health and substance use care to our youth. We are also working to ensure full parity between physical and mental health care so all Americans have access to quality, affordable care, including for substance use.

This month, I call on everyone — parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, teachers, community members, and more — to reach out to the young people in their lives to share information, promote healthy lifestyles, and help transform lives through evidence-based substance use prevention.  We thank every individual and every organization working on the front lines to prevent youth substance use.  And we renew our commitment to building a healthier and more supportive Nation where all young people can reach their full potential and achieve their dreams.  I will never quit fighting to get everyone the support and resources needed to beat this crisis.  No one is ever alone.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2022 as National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month.  Let us all take action to implement practice and evidence-based prevention strategies and improve the health of our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

                                 JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

In October, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is observing Youth Substance Use Prevention Month. The need for prevention has never been greater. Studies show that the earlier in life a young person starts using alcohol or other drugs, the greater their lifetime risk of misuse or addiction.

  • In 2021, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose.
  • According to SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.2 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past month, and 13.8 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 used illicit drugs in the past year.

For more information visit SAMHSA’s website and check out  A Guide to SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework