Red Ribbon Week provides information for people who are addicted and their families

The Red Ribbon Career Fair took place Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the quad. There were a variety of support groups and internship opportunities spoken about during the event. (Kaylee Johnston)

Michele Hardy

To help bring awareness to Red Ribbon Week, several different support groups came out to Saddleback College to provide information to family members and people dealing with alcoholism and narcotic abuse on Oct. 23.
Red Ribbon Week was started by Congressman Duncan Hunter in 1985 in honor of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena’s death while trying to stop drug traffickers in Mexico. Hunter wanted to bring attention to drug and alcohol addiction and the support groups that help with continued cessation.
Many people may be familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous, but few know of the sister group Al-Anon.
“(Al-Anon) is a group for family and friends that have been affected by alcoholics,” said Gwen B, one of the group leaders for the southern Orange County faction of Al-Anon. “We teach people how to detach from the situation…we learn to gain our self-worth and be gentle with ourselves.”
The primary function of Al-Anon is to remind the friends and family members of alcoholics that they are not responsible for the alcoholic’s actions, but they are responsible for how they respond to those actions, Gwen said.
“We tend to take on (the alcoholic’s) emotions, because we’re so worried about that person instead of ourselves,” said Ellen J, another group leader for Al-Anon Orange County.
It is important that the family of alcoholics receive support when dealing with an alcoholic family member, Ellen said. This is especially true for teens and children who have alcoholic parents.
That’s where Alateen comes in. Alateen is a group specifically designed to help children understand and handle living with alcoholic parents.
“We’re there to support them,” Gwen said. “Any day of the week, they can find a meeting…Through our stories, people see the strength in themselves to better their lives.”
Both Gwen and Ellen emphasize the importance of a child dealing with an addicted parent to detach themselves from the situations created by their parents. It is crucial that the children learn that they shouldn’t stop loving their parents, but they shouldn’t take on the blame for why their parents act the way they do, Gwen said.
Another addiction that can be handled through an anonymous group is narcotic addiction. Narcotics Anonymous takes on the same 12-step program that is used in AA, but welcomes anyone who is addicted to attend the meetings.
Pete DeLuca, former addict and now leader of the south O.C. branch of Narcotics Anonymous said, “Our focus is to deal with the addiction.”
DeLuca said, “It’s a self-help program. So if you use every day, you should go (to a meeting) every day. If you’re a weekend warrior, you should go on the weekends.”
DeLuca said that Narcotics Anonymous doesn’t require a person to be religious in order to be effective in the program. “We don’t promote anything spiritual,” he said.

For more information about Red Ribbon Week, visit:
For more information about Al-Anon, visit:
For more information about Narcotics Anonymous, visit:

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