Drug abuse prevention and addiction treatment key during Red Ribbon Week

Parris Wells and Brook McKenzie stand at their New Method Wellness booth during the fair in an attempt to help drug misusers recover. (Jordan Rangel/Lariat)

Parris Wells and Brook McKenzie represented New Method Wellness in San Juan Capistrano at the college’s Red Ribbon Week fair. The organization offers assistance to those suffering from substance abuse. (Jordan Rangel/Lariat)

Over 20 groups and 100 participants joined in the quad at Saddleback College on Wednesday to provide the community with knowledge about drug prevention, substance abuse and mental health recovery.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Orange County, Red Ribbon Week is a week to prioritize treating and preventing drug misuse.  NCADD also emphasizes that this is a time where parents can talk to kids about drugs.

The event, organized by the Division of Health Sciences and Human Services, invited organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Bridge Teen Recovery and StandUp for Kids.

Saddleback’s Human Services also plan to cook for the homeless, receive clothing donations and host a mini golf tournament, while raising funds for the less fortunate.

“There were 100 participants and next year will be bigger,” said HSHS Program Specialist Peggy Dakin.

The HSHS division equipped itself with several student volunteers to alert their peers about ways of helping the general public.

“Our goal is helping out people that need help,” said Christian Bonin, human services major and volunteer at the event.

Drug misuse and abuse is the concentrated concern of Red Ribbon Week, but matters like sexual misconduct and mental health are still highlighted.

“We recognize the connection between drug abuse and sexual assault,” said Dawn Foor, supervisor of Community Service Programs (CSP) Sexual Assault Victim Services.

Approximately one in four women experience sexual misconduct and about 10 percent have experienced penetration, according to the Association of American Universities.

“Ecstasy is the latest drug, it makes for an easy victim, Foor said.

New Method Wellness Substance Abuse Treatment Center, in San Juan Capistrano, provided information in one of the booths. It provides struggling substance abusers and mental health victims with a safe and drug-free home. A recovering alcoholic founded the organization in an attempt to save others fighting the same battle.

“We are a dual-diagnosis facility,” said Parris Wells, director of marketing for New Method Wellness. “We rely on strong success stories.”

What makes New Method Wellness a dual-diagnosis facility is that it not only helps recovering addicts, but those suffering from issues in mental health.

“Mental health issues often lead to drugs in an effort to cope,” said Jennifer Tipan, an academic advisor for Pacific Clinics.

Pacific Clinics teach small groups about the warning signs and risk factors of certain mental health disorders. One in four Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, which is more common than heart disease and cancer combined according to Mental Health First Aid of Orange County.

“Red Ribbon Week is about going out and doing something good for one another,” said President of the Human Services Club, Vine Peace.