The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

The Reason We have Red Ribbon Week


October 24, 2018

Red Ribbon week is celebrated nationally normally between October 23-31. This year both the high school and the grade school will be focusing on the purpose of Red Ribbon Week which is to encourage student to make a commitment to live safe and drug-free lives.

Red Ribbon week was first created in 1988 after an DEA Agent Enrique Camarerena was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Guadalajara Mexico as an undercover agent. His home town placed red ribbons around to try and increase awareness to the importance of choosing a drug-free lifestyle. The campaign concentrates on the problems related to the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

I asked Chouteau County Deputy Sheriff Officer Jeremy Echols, "Do we have drugs in our community?" "Yes. Yes, everywhere actually. There is a lot of drug traffic on the highway."

According to the number of drug reports by region for type A crimes which are drug related crimes for 2018 in Chouteau county was 78 reports. If you compare that to Hill County with 1,395 reports and Cascade County with 3,327 reports it is a good indication that in fact illegal drugs are everywhere around us.

Most of what we hear about illegal drug use here in Big Sandy is the use of marijuana. They can't do much with rumors and they have to find the individuals using it before they can actually charge them. Current law says, "The state of Montana considers marijuana a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance and a dangerous drug. Recreational marijuana is very much illegal and punishable by imprisonment and fines. Possessing up to 60 grams of recreational marijuana for personal use is considered a misdemeanor and carries a three year maximum jail sentence and a $1,000 maximum fine. Getting caught with more than 60 grams of marijuana is considered a felony and can result in five years' incarceration with a $50,000 maximum fine. Selling, delivering, and cultivating ANY amount of marijuana in Montana is criminalize with a felony conviction."

Illegal use of prescription drugs has had a decline since the formation of a state-wide data base. "It appears to be helping. People are still going and asking for pain medication which they don't need. There is a lot of break-ins especially in senior homes, maybe not so much here, but in the surrounding areas. They are stealing drugs out of purses, leaving the money and just taking the drugs" Echols said. The Big Sandy Pharmacy has a permanent drop box for unused and unwanted drugs.

"Additionally,", according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, "more than five percent of Montana teens ages 12-17 reported having used a prescription pain killer for a nonmedical purpose That number rises to nearly ten percent (9.36%) among young adults ages 18-25....Possibly even more troubling is that now across the country 80 percent of "recent heroin initiates had

previously used prescription opioids non-medically," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The link between prescription painkiller abuse and subsequent and/or simultaneous heroin abuse continues to grow.'

There is nothing in our community that helps with addictions whether it be alcohol, prescription pain medication, or illegal drugs. The closet is in Havre. Bullhook works with drug related addictions and Highline Recovery works with for Alcohol related addictions. Echols said, "A lot of insurances do cover treatment."

"We do look for house parties ,when we are doing patrols. Thankfully the school here has a strong anti-drug policy and if the kids want to participate in sports they're staying away from using." According to 57% of all liquor law violations which is the purchase of, possession of, or intoxicant are by a minor in the state of Montana. Also 62 % of all liquor law violations are while driving.

According to Deputy Echols "A glaring fact is if you talk to your school age child they have 50% better chance of NOT using drugs and alcohol. The sad part is less than 25% of parents every talk to their children about the drugs and alcohol. If parents would talk to their children it would reduce the use of alcohol and drugs by 50%! Why wouldn't we? If they hear about it from their friends their friends aren't going to tell them not to do it. The peer pressure means they'll most likely use it, because they have nothing, no support, to fall back on."

And although the both schools will be supporting Red Ribbon Week, it would appear that parental involvement, talking to your kids is the best prevention.


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