DOVER — Through the Drugs Drag You Down campaign headed by the Delaware Children’s Department, teenagers are taught how to deal with stress in positive ways.
“Back to school is kind of the perfect storm when it comes to stress,” said Pam Louie, program support administrator at the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services.
“Students are going from a relaxing summer back into a structured environment where they now have assignments, due dates and tests to worry about,” she said.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, teens ranked as the most stressed age group, with 31 percent feeling overwhelmed, 30 percent depressed and 36 percent fatigued, all due to stress.
Many middle and high school students do not know how to cope with the new-found stress and some may resort to alcohol or drug use, officials said.
This is a national problem and in a state by state comparison, the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports Delaware youth have among the highest self-reported rates of marijuana and alcohol use in the country.
Delaware teens also rank in the second quarter of states whose youth have ever smoked cigarettes, used ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamines or engaged in binge drinking.
The consequences of these activities can result in impaired memory, learning, and concentration and higher drop-out rates, officials said.
“At the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, we work with youth and their families to be proactive and preventative when it comes to alcohol and drug use,” Ms. Louie said.
Drugs Drag You Down is funded by the state and a federal grant for substance abuse prevention.
The campaign encourages healthy outlets for stress such as a regular sleep schedule, regular exercise, meditation and breathing exercises, officials said.
“It’s all about self-care and being centered,” Ms. Louie said. “There is so much going on in a teen’s life that they need to keep a healthy balance and return to their center.”
The Drugs Drag You Down campaign is now in its second year and lasts from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31. The campaign began Saturday with its first event at Delaware State University with a high-energy substance abuse prevention rallies.
The campaign will hold additional rallies at schools and other community locations until the end of October. Dates and locations will be announced.
“After the first year, we got very positive feedback from all the schools we visited and I think everyone was impressed with how engaging the campaign was and how it really heightened the level of awareness,” Ms. Louie said.
To spread its message, the campaign will put up billboards across the state featuring the campaign’s zombie-centric logo.
Drugs Drag You Down will also exercise its presence on social media. Ms. Louie encourages students to post on Instagram and Twitter using #DDUD to have a chance at winning prizes.
Radio stations WAFL and WJBR and both holding contests related to the campaign. Listeners can go to the station’s website to take a survey about drug facts and entered into a drawing for a back to school shopping spree.