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Program manager to launch anti-drug campaign

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- Andre Johnson, 45th Space Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program manager, researches past Red Ribbon Week campaigns as he finalizes plans for the 2006 Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23- 31. The theme is “United Against Drugs.” Mr. Johnson will speak with children at the Youth Center at Patrick AFB as well as two schools and a church. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Brown)

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- Andre Johnson, 45th Space Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program manager, researches past Red Ribbon Week campaigns as he finalizes plans for the 2006 Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23- 31. The theme is “United Against Drugs.” Mr. Johnson will speak with children at the Youth Center at Patrick AFB as well as two schools and a church. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Brown)

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- While the Global War on Terrorism rages on, Andre Johnson wages his own war - on drugs. Mr. Johnson, 45th Space Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program manager, plans to launch a counter-drug campaign Monday in coordination with Red Ribbon Week, Monday through Oct 31.

The National Family Partnership initiated Red Ribbon Week in 1988 in honor of Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Carmarena, a former Marine, killed in the line of duty while investigating a foreign drug cartel in 1985.
Mr. Johnson, with 12 years experience in drug prevention, will spend most of his week spreading his anti-drug message to children here at Patrick AFB and around the local area - many as young as six. "If you can catch them young, they get the message," he said. "If you catch them [in adulthood], it's too late."
Spreading the anti-drug word to first graders may seem drastic to some, but Mr. Johnson said he has encountered drug users as young as seven. "It starts in the household and it can start early," he said. "That's why it's important to get the word out."
Mr. Johnson will speak with local high school students also, but said his main focus with them will be education rather that prevention. "Education is the key with students that age." he said.
Education and "putting the fear of God" into newcomers during orientation to the 45th SW is what Mr. Johnson says is the key to the 45th SW's drop in positive drug tests. He said the 45th SW has not had a positive drug test since he arrived from Colorado in June 2005. Three people in the wing tested positive in 2004, according to Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson said he will focus on two drugs which have become wildly popular recently - ecstasy and gamma hydroxy butyrate, commonly known as GHB. GHB is commonly used as a "date rape drug" because it often renders users incapable of resisting and can impair memory, making assault prosecution difficult, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency Web site http://www.dea.gov/concern/ghb_factsheet.html.
Mr. Johnson plans to hand out 700 red ribbons during the week, reminding as many people as possible of the dangers of drug abuse.
"My goal is spread the message to as many people as I can for prevention and education," he said.