Youth Perspective: On the Red Ribbon Theme “Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug Free”

25 October 2023 | Youth Advisory Committee

Reciting the Red Ribbon theme of “Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug Free” in its essence promotes self love, caring about oneself to the extent that you’re instilling positive habits for your future self. In terms of the human mind we have all endured pain and suffering and it’s natural to look for an outlet of release, but the levels of destressing and unfortunately choosing drugs can/will send anyone towards the edge of bad decision making.

Possessing the mindset of a former high school student to now a college student transitioning into a career, I’ve been able to have a backseat to patterns of how the decision to start using drugs becomes rational for people who are going through a rough time. Regardless of the situation it starts off with the first use whether intentional or not, through the release of dopamine or being predisposed from birth. This behavior can snowball into addiction because it becomes part of a person’s lifestyle. Rate at which one life decision can get out of hand serves as a lesson that prevention is the key.

Upon my independent studies, whether a person is trying to stop using drugs or prevent themselves from ever starting, these are both great examples of neuroplasticity in progress. “Being kind to your mind” implies that a person desires more for themselves out of their current circumstance, in regard to drugs the mental effort of making a resolution to stop taking or never starting is a sign of strong positive behavior or strong will.

Neuroplasticity is a process in which the human brain is able to change and build new neural pathways, our neural pathways weaken in terms of some connections and strengthen with others as our neurons are replenished every night when sleeping. When we learn new skills every day or receive environmental data our brain isn’t the same as the previous day. Knowing the fact that our brain is a muscle and can cement positive habits suggests that concrete negative behaviors from substances can now be replaced by positive alternative habits, subduing former tendencies, hence stopping or preventing drug use.

Drugs are like clouds that dim one’s senses, while a mind free from drugs is granted the opportunity to impact the lives of others through that person’s character. For everyone who survived through a pandemic, it’s fair to say whether we wanted to or not we’re resilient. Continuing with a resilient mindset will allow us as a collective to avoid immediate gratification, which always leads to an eminent crash no matter the drug used. Dealing with new struggles it’s important to hold onto the sentiment that this too shall pass.

– Richard Nukpeta

*Inspired from lectures by Prof. Barbara Oakley and Prof. Terry Sejnowski