Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

Guest Blog: The True Meaning Of This Year’s Red Ribbon Week Theme: YOLO. Be Drug Free.®

Posted on 07/05/2016 @ 01:01 PM

By Guest Blogger: Brian Green, Prevention Educator Family Resource Center of Northwest Ohio

For decades, phrases such as “one lives but once in the world,” and “carpe diem,” or “seize the day,” have encouraged people that life should be enjoyed because they will never again have a chance. Today, we have “YOLO,” or “you only live once.” Though not a new concept, the phrase has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly because of its association with music and popular culture.

For some individuals, “YOLO” has become an excuse to believe that “because we only live once, we should pursue a high-risk lifestyle of drinking and drug use.” However, these individuals are part of a minority of youth who think this way.

In American popular culture, drinking and drug use are often portrayed as a norm, where in reality they are not. Similarly, it might seem as if “YOLO” is entirely about these negative choices, but from speaking with many youths in the community, it is actually just the opposite. This was made very clear to me this recently in Columbus, Ohio at the “We Are Majority Rally, where it was obvious that a large majority of youth believe in a drug-free future.

Statistically, most youths do not use drugs and alcohol, and when they hear “YOLO,” that is the exact reason why. They know that they only have one chance at life and rather than wasting it on drugs and alcohol, they embrace healthy activities. These students take good care of their bodies and minds and refrain from engaging in unhealthy behaviors that could cause long-term damage.

Therefore, as Red Ribbon Week organizers and volunteers, we need to continue to reinforce the positive message behind “YOLO. Be Drug Free®”and inform anyone who mistakenly confuses YOLO to mean anything other than living your best life, taking care of your body and mind and being drug free.

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