by Rachel Jones

In a study conducted by Fairfax County Public Schools, nearly one-third of all 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students said they have used drugs or alcohol in the past year. Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana have proved to be the most common illegal substances among Fairfax County students.

Teens’ use of drugs has been considered a “hot-button” issue in the past decade, but has recently began a gradual decline. Drug use has been a popular theme in Middle and High schools across the nation, and the “Red Ribbon Campaign”, or Drug Awareness Week, has also risen in popularity among high schools in the country.

To many, drug addiction may not seem like a mental illness. However, drug addiction can actually change the brain and the way it works. According to, drugs can change the brain’s priorities and compulsive actions to ones connected to drug use, making it even harder to quit. Drugs can be dangerous and addictive, which is why high schools throughout the U.S. have begun to participate in the Red Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness on the issue.

For the first time at Stuart, Drug Awareness Week, initiated by the Stuart SGA, took place over the week of October 26th-30th. “Drug abuse is an important issue facing today’s youth,” said junior Sydney Mack, one of the students who helped to create the event at Stuart.  “We found it important to bring to students’ attention that yes, drugs are a mental illness and yes, we can help you.”

Principal Penny Gros is also excited about bringing Drug Awareness Week to Stuart. “I was really excited that our SGA took the initiative to host Red Ribbon Week. The main focus was on getting the word out about the dangers of drugs and alcohol but I think a wonderful side effect was that our entire community came together and you could feel the power of us all being unified behind one message.”

“I am so proud of what our students accomplished,” said Ms. Gros. “Our SGA came together with very little notice and really demonstrated a lot of leadership and initiative.”