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Family Focus: The Polewski Family

Posted by Informed Families on January 23, 2019 at 11:08 AM

“A lot of people look at addicted individuals as people who lie, steal and hurt others,” said Katie Polewski. “This was not the case with my son. He always told me the truth. I knew he was struggling when he avoided me because he couldn’t lie.”

While he started his journey of drug use with marijuana, on the night that he died, Katie’s son Derrek was using heroin. He was ready to get sober and was attempting to wean himself off the drug to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Even though he used a tiny dose that night, the heroin contained fentanyl, which is significantly more potent and often deadly.

Katie Polewski lost her son Derrek on January 16, 2016 after a long battle with addiction.

“I believe that whether or not a child starts using drugs has a lot to do with friends they make, choices they make and not being aware of the dangers,” said Polewski. “I can’t express how important it is for awareness and prevention. All three of my kids were different. They had completely different personalities and they were all raised the same…with unconditional love.”

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

Informed Families Welcomes Outstanding New Board Members

Posted by Informed Families on January 22, 2019 at 8:41 PM

Three new trustees represent organizations with a long-standing commitment to prevention.

Jessi Berrin serves as Director of Development for Baptist Health South Florida, the largest not-for-profit healthcare organization in the South Florida region spanning Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She is responsible for a comprehensive and robust development program with an emphasis on donor-driven philanthropy to support South Florida’s brand new, state-of-the-art Miami Cancer Institute. Jessi graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida in May 2007, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications and an outside concentration in Business Administration. Shortly after graduating, Jessi landed a position as an Associate Producer at WPLG, Local 10 News in Miami, Florida where she wrote and produced the morning news program. In 2012, Jessi officially became a “Double Gator” by receiving a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Florida. Berrin joined the IF Board of Trustees in January.

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Topics: volunteer, drug prevention, prevention, Informed Families

Let's Shatter The Myths About Drug Use

Posted by Informed Families on January 17, 2019 at 6:02 PM

Help youth make choices about their health based on facts, not myths.

Myths about drugs and drug use are pervasive, and for young people, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction. Popular culture can make smoking appear commonplace. But the reality is that fewer teens than ever before are smoking cigarettes. In general, young adults tend to perceive their peers as exhibiting higher rates of drug use than what is actually occurring. Data from the 2017 Monitoring the Future study tells part of the promising story; past-year misuse of prescription opioids among 12th graders has dropped dramatically in the past 15 years, from nearly 10 percent in 2002 to 2 percent in 2017. And according to data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 1 in 100 young adults between the ages of 12 and 17 currently misuse prescription opioids.

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Topics: drug prevention, drug use, parents

Students Earn $1,000 For Their Schools In South Florida Red Ribbon Video Contest

Posted by Informed Families on December 19, 2018 at 8:10 PM

This October, students in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties competed for the title of Best Red Ribbon Week video in the Informed Families South Florida Red Ribbon Week Video Contest. The goal of the contest was for student leaders to inspire other students to make healthy choices around drugs and alcohol use in a 1-3 minute video featuring the 2018 Red Ribbon Week theme: Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.

Informed Families is thrilled to announce the two winning schools and the talented students whose works were selected by a small group of judges representing the field of media, education and prevention. 

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, drug prevention, red ribbon video contest

Orlando School Wins National Red Ribbon Photo Contest

Posted by Informed Families on December 6, 2018 at 2:45 PM

On December 3, the National Family Partnership (NFP) announced 20 winners of its 8th Annual National Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest. One Florida school, Orlando Science Charter School was named the Region 2 school entry winner for receiving the most votes in the Southeastern United States in support of its photo. 

To participate in the contest, families and schools across the country decorated either their homes or school campuses with this year’s Red Ribbon theme: “Life is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.” A total of $20,000 will be awarded to K-12 schools, which includes 10 winners who received the most votes in their region and 10 winners who were selected for Judges Awards. The families and individuals who entered on behalf of the schools will also receive an ipad.

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, drug prevention

2018 Red Ribbon Week Highlights

Posted by Informed Families on November 18, 2018 at 11:43 AM

It's been 30 years since the first ever National Red Ribbon Week, which was organized by the National Family Partnership. This year's National Red Ribbon theme was  "Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free" - and to Red Ribbon's founders, building, sustaining and growing the campaign has been a true journey!

It all started after the tragic kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA Special Agent Kiki Camarena in 1985. His friends and family started wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol in support of drug free lifestyles. Thanks to the Parents Movement and the various organizations, such as Informed Families, around the country who felt the same way, Red Ribbon picked up steam and became a national event in 1988. 

Each year, students across America come up with ideas for Red Ribbon Week themes. This year's theme, "Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free," came from a student in Solon, Ohio. Informed Families delivered the theme and Red Ribbon activities and materials through our partnership with volunteer Ambassadors, agencies, organizations and businesses, leveraging resources and reaching more children and families with prevention messages.

Here are some highlights from 2018 Red Ribbon Week:

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, drug prevention

Family Focus: The Strunck Family

Posted by Informed Families on November 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Written by: Nikki Strunck, mother

The sixth overdose was fatal. My only child Brendan died at the age of 24.

He and some friends started messing around with pot when he was 13. By the age of 14, he got oxycodone pills from a friend, and by 16, he was addicted to heroin.

I grieved for my son for years before he died. As difficult as talking about this is, if I can help one person not die, this is worth it.

I think when Brendan was small, I thought he would try drinking and smoking pot. I was not prepared for opioid abuse.

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

Family Focus: The Mendell Family

Posted by Informed Families on October 27, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Brian Mendell was a child who loved the outdoors and had an infectious smile.  In elementary school, Brian started to experience difficulties and was diagnosed with ADD. He was also later diagnosed with anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger's.  

Brian started smoking marijuana at the age of 13 with some of his friends. He, unlike some of his friends, became addicted to marijuana and ultimately became addicted to opioids. He went through numerous treatment programs, struggled immensely, relapsed frequently and ultimately took his own life after a long battle with addiction in the fall of 2011.  

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Topics: suicide, drug use, drug prevention, opioids

Paragon Residential Detox Center Celebrates Red Ribbon Week With I-95 Billboard

Posted by Informed Families on October 27, 2018 at 3:42 PM

 

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Topics: red ribbon, drug prevention, palm beach

Family Focus: The Sundt Family

Posted by Informed Families on September 27, 2018 at 3:04 PM

Sundt brothers

Jon Sundt tragically lost both of his brothers, Steve & Eric, to drug addiction.

“Steve and Eric had dreams,” said Sundt, a businessman and founder of alternative investment company Altegris. “They were athletes, they loved the outdoors and they loved the ocean. They were on a good path, enjoying life. [They] got sidetracked, listened to some friends who turned out to be not very good friends.”

Both became addicted to drugs in high school, thinking that they could just “experiment” and everything would turn out ok.

“They thought drugs were cool and would lead to something they [didn’t] have,” said Sundt. “They tried to fit in and kick it up a notch by doing drugs.”

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Topics: suicide, mental health, healthy kids, drug use, drug prevention

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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