Red Ribbon Week Highlights Issues of Substance Abuse

The campus was adorned with red ribbons this week, providing the community with a continued visual reminder of the dangers and consequences of alcohol and other drug use.

The School’s annual Red Ribbon Week, hosted by Students Against Destructive Decision (SADD), a student advocacy group that focuses on health and wellness, is a week-long effort dedicated to ensuring that students have the best tools possible to make positive and healthy choices. SADD’s platform this year is “Resilience and Self Care,” and that premise was highlighted in a talk given by Stephen Hill, founder of Speak Sobriety, at Tuesday’s Morning Meeting. Hill was invited to the School through a collaboration between SADD and MISH. 

Hill suffered from an active addiction for more than a decade and has been sober since 2012. In his speech to Upper School students, Hill shared his personal experience with addiction and spoke about the impact students’ actions can have on themselves and others. “You have to decide for yourself what you want from your life and decide if you want to take the risk of ending up the way I did, or worse,” said Hill. He reminded students that marijuana and alcohol impair one’s ability to make good decisions, which is why, he said, every person he knows who tried a hard drug did so for the first time while under the influence of marijuana or alcohol. Hill also gave students specific advice for avoiding opiates: if you need a painkiller after an injury or surgery, ask your doctor if a non-narcotic option is available.

“The speech by Stephen Hill was a new part of the [Red Ribbon] week, and it was a great way for Masters to unite,” said Vincent Alban ’19, a SADD Supporting Officer. In addition to Hill’s presentation, students were invited to participate in activities such as Fatal Vision Goggles and the Reality Wall. Fatal Vision Goggles simulate alcohol impairment, and students were encouraged to try them on and attempt different activities, such as throwing and catching a ball, to see how incapacitated the goggles made them. The Reality Wall is a paper brick wall where SADD posted “bricks” that students wrote about a person who was or experience that was negatively impacted by alcohol or other substance use.

Alban noted that the community “was much more involved this year ... which was really great to see.” And although the red ribbons will be taken down at the end of the week, the club will continue spreading its important message throughout the year. 

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