Red Ribbon Week Reflections

It is red ribbon week at my kids' school, a time when I always feel generally uncomfortable with both the past and the future. For those who are unfamiliar, Red Ribbon week is when the schools try to find catchy ways to get school children to pledge to stay off drugs. I cringe when my children come home with red ribbons or discuss how they are doing "crazy hair" for red ribbon week. Is this really the best way to keep my kids off drugs?

When I was my daughter's age, I had already smoked pot. This was at seven and eight years old. I had already seen my father falling down drunk numerous times. I had seen older people in my life under the influence of drugs. I am from the beginning of the DARE generation where we were told drugs were bad. No one ever explained to us WHY or what drugs actually did to young bodies. We were also told sex was something married people do and HIV is God's righteous wrath for being a sinner. Except, I already had seen people on drugs, people having sex outside of marriage, knew people that were Gay that were nicer than the uptight judgemental folk feeding me this information. By the time I got to be sixteen years old, I felt adults were liars and hypocrites. It isn't what you SAY to children, it is what we SAW that made an impact on us.

During Red Ribbon week, I wonder if they will ever call on me to tell the children what it was like to be a junkie. That is what they need to hear. They need to hear some raw stuff. Some of the best emails I have ever received were from grown adults who told me they were on the fence about drugs when they saw "Black Tar Heroin". The film pushed them into the "nope" zone. That makes me feel as if allowing people to see me at the lowest point of my life was worthwhile.

I pray to all the Gods that my kids stay off drugs. I do my best to make that a reality. I sit at their soccer games. I cuddle them. I answer all their questions. I want them to love themselves so much more than I did back then. This is my greatest hope.

What was your experience with drugs? Did you see people using them? What brought you to the place where you gave yourself the permission to use?

I see you all as my extended family. I hope you love yourself a little more than you did yesterday. I hope you learn to love those drugs a little less. Those drugs are lying to you. They demand everything. They provide diminishing returns and will eventually leave you for dead.

XOXO Tracey


  1. I started smoking pot and drinking when I was 13 because I found out that society had lied to me when they told me these things were evil. Of course, I took this way too far and before I could count to ten I was in a bathroom letting some girl I just met a few hours ago stick a needle in my arm. All because snorting the dope did not get me high anymore.

    I think the best way to keep kids away from drugs is to be completely honest. Tell them that it is a choice they must make one day and that it doesn't make you evil. Tell them you won't look down on them or excessively punish them. But still make very clear the dangers and just how tricky the disease of addiction can be. Just my opinion shortened to a paragraph though.

  2. Beautifully written Tracy.....I honestly never grew up watching anybody use "hard" drugs or was ever exposed to that kind of setting. I may have dabbled in smoking weed and having a few ecstasy pills in my teens...but never had an addictive personality (so I thought) during that time until I met my than boyfriend who exposed me to heroin...which than of course was a downhill spiral from there.

    I also grew up during the era when D.A.R.E. programs were being enforced in my school. Looking back on it I realize those programs didn't help me out whatsoever. Had I been exposed to raw material such as your documentary from HBO or real footage of people who experienced addiction with heroin or any kind of substances I would have been more educated what the repercussions would have been. Except for me all I knew was that drugs were BAD and "just say no" Clearly that didn't do anything for me because I had my curiosities with different drugs, which than led me to being a full blown heroin addict.

    This is a topic that even I have spoken with my boyfriend about, when and if we have kids, would we talk about my past and educate them. He on the other hand wants me to stay hush hush and not tell any of our friends or people we knew about my past because I feel he is ashamed. But for some reason I feel there is nothing wrong with admitting your past and accepting trials and tribulations you have experienced in your life and not repeating it again. Also on that note before I was hooked on heroin, I will admit I used to be very judgmental about drug users and "junkies" and looked down on them and in a sense always felt I was superior or better than them. I used to be that nurse that would make snarky comments about my patients who would be on their call light for their pain medication and despised them. I feel that now after also being exposed to an addiction to heroin, I have changed a lot as a person and nurse. I am more empathetic to patients who are having withdrawals, or addictions, or substance problems. In a sense they have a saying that everything in life happens for a reason. I feel now I have a purpose as a nurse and and genuinely want to help patients who have addictions and dealing with any drug abuse and pass no judgement on them. I can admit it has changed me as a person, and maybe for the better because it has definitely changed my outlook on life. Hence if they change the education on drugs to children, also maybe I wouldn't have passed so much judgement on people. Yet I had to learn the hard way...but here I am today. Sober, healthy, and loving life.


    Love you tracey!

    p.s. your posts always help me out a lot...I don't attend NAA meetings, just because it doesn't work for me, but I always find your posts as therapy to me and really helps me through my hard days and my sobriety.

    1. I have gotten feedback that quite a few people log in here for support

  3. I too am from the DARE era, and I remember red ribbon week from school. Honesty is definitely something both of these programs are lacking.
    Okay drugs are bad, but why?
    The real shit we should be talking about is what drugs will do to you and take from you.
    The DARE program has been proven a failure in many studies. DARE told us drugs AND alcohol were bad. Many of us had parents who drank.
    My story started at a young age. I was gay in the early 90s but not out. I went to a rural community high school where anything that stuck out got you made fun of. Being effeminate definitely got me picked on.
    School terrified me. I think somewhere around this time life changed for me. I became very socially scared and developed horrible panic attacks.
    Daily torture at school weakened me.
    Booze made me feel better. People liked me when I drank, or so it seemed.
    Alcohol turned to marijuana and the combination quickly had me deciding school and other responsibilities didnt matter.
    Cocaine and opiate pain killerrs were my next step. Partying made me happy and not feel so awkward or different. I belonged and had friends.
    Heroin was heaven. Heaven!
    I could do this once in awhile and enjoy that warm fuzzy feel good!
    I was wrong again.
    Snorting soon became shooting, and I once again proved I couldnt control drugs. They controlled me.
    I was on the needle for seven years before trying methadone. Methadone got me off of heroin and probably saved my life, but it didnt get me clean.
    Eventually I took heroin as my best friend and went another two years with her.
    Detox, treatment, 12 step meetings, a sponsor and most importantly a power greater than me give me a daily reprieve everyday. I mix all sorts of different things into my recovery. Nothing is the exact same for any of us IMO. So far its been working and I'm so grateful!
    Thanks for letting me share.

    1. I wished someone, Anyone,would have given me accurate information about drugs.


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