This week is Red Ribbon Week®, and talking and listening to your teens is one of the most important ways to help them stay drug free. When we talk to our kids and keep communication open with them, we increase their chances of making healthy and positive choices.

How do you begin the conversation with your teens? Ask them what they know about drugs, and tell them the facts about what drugs do to their bodies. For instance, marijuana is viewed by many in the public as a harmless drug, but research is showing it can have a damaging impact on youth’s developing brains. The thinking and reasoning part of the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, and marijuana use impairs the process of brain development. For more information on possible conversations to have with your teen, go to and search Table Talks.

Gateway to Prevention and Recovery Regional Prevention Coordinators (RPC) are working with the Pottawatomie County Youth Task Force (PCYTF) to change community norms around youth marijuana use in Shawnee. Funding for these efforts is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

To find out more about drug prevention in your community please contact the regional prevention coordinator team of Jessica Eddings at or Jon Greenwood at