BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Monday, October 24 marked the start of Red Ribbon Week, a time to bring awareness to local youth about the dangers of drugs. Red Ribbon Week was started back in 1988, celebrating those who have overcome drug addiction and those who choose to be drug-free.
Sonya Robinson, the program director for Action Family Counseling, says that with the rise in fentanyl overdoses here in Kern County, they are woking with local schools to help educate kids about the dangers that drug in particular presents.
“Sometimes the parents are not really aware that drugs are an issue for their child, so I think it just helps to bring up awareness for everyone,” said Robinson.
This Red Ribbon Week, Robinson says Action Family Counseling will be hosting information booths at some area schools where they will be handing out brochures and educating students about fentanyl and other drugs.
Robinson says she has also noticed a rise in people checking into rehab facilities unaware they had fentanyl in their systems. This happens because other street drugs are often cut with fentanyl.
“You drug test them and they all come out positive for fentanyl. It’s not any other drug,” said Robinson. “They don’t even know what they are taking is fentanyl.”
Robinson says our youth need to be educated about drugs before they are exposed to them in order to prevent addiction.
“They don’t even know how powerful the drug is that they are messing with,” said Robinson. “They think it’s something like Norco and they don’t have a clue.”
Robinson says the scary thing about drugs like fentanyl is that most of the time, people are not aware they are addicted to it because they had no idea the drugs they’ve used were cut with it.
“They buy it off the street and they have no idea that it’s fentanyl,” said Robinson. “People that think they are addicted to Oxycontin or Percocet, they’ve been buying them off the street. They don’t know that they are fentanyl until they come in and drug test. That’s how they find out.”
Robinson says fentanyl is by far the most abused drug in Kern County, and it’s getting worse due to fentanyl’s high level of addictiveness.
“The drug pushers out there want to put it into everything because it keeps their clients coming back,” said Robinson.
She says more people are checking into rehab facilities due to the fentanyl crisis.
“It’s extremely hard to detox on your own,” said Robinson. “[People] get really ill, and during those days when they are very ill often fall back into the ill behaviors of using.”
Action Family Counseling is also working with local schools during Red Ribbon Week to help educate kids and parents about the dangers of drugs.
“Schools have called us for brochures, and we have offered to do assemblies at the school to education the youth,” said Robinson. “And then we do have the booth at Vista West this Thursday where they have asked us to come there and give education and information out to the students.”
Red Ribbon Week runs through October 31st.