Citizens bring anti-drug campaign to city

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

In a presentation that drew striking parallels to an unrelated report on rising crime and its relation to drug use, local residents Vicki and Herb Rizzardini addressed the Ridgecrest City Council last week from the public microphone looking for community support for their anti-drug campaign.

“It seems to me drug abuse is increasing in the United States,” said Vicki, adding that numerous statistics support that observation and that she attributes the trend in part to the apparent social condoning of drug use through an increased exposure to drug use in television, music and other pop culture, as well as the legalization of marijuana by many states.

“This tells kids, ‘What could be wrong with it? It’s legal’ … children are told that marijuana is now a medicine, it’s OK and it won’t harm them.”

But Vicki noted that increased dependency on marijuana as a medical treatment has led to spikes in the abuse of prescription narcotics like vicodin, oxycontin and hydrocodone.

She also cited a National Institute on Drug Abuse study showing that most drug abusers start with marijuana. “Kids don’t wake up one day and say, ‘I want to try heroin’ or ‘I want to smoke crack cocaine.’”

Users often resort to more dangerous drugs in an attempt to seek a more extreme high.

“In my opinion, education is what is needed. Kids need to understand the long-term and short-term effects of drugs so they can make a decision,” she said.

The Rizzardinis have brought their message to numerous public venues, including fairs and other community gatherings, to pass out information booklets on the 12 most common drugs and to solicit signatures on a drug-free pledge aimed at teenagers.

Vicki said that Drug-Free World (found online) offers materials free of charge to anyone. Among the most powerful testimonies are those of former abusers themselves who talk about the negative impacts of drugs on a persons relationships, health and finances.

She said that in talking about the program to officers, she has learned that by age 11 or 12, kids need to understand the dangers of drugs before they are exposed to them.

“I would also like anybody’s ideas about what more we can do,” she said, inviting concerned residents to call her at 760-382-1311 or e-mail her at drugfreeridgecrest@yahoo.com.

“I think we are on the right road to changing this in our community.”

Story First Published: 2013-12-11