IAMNDN brings youth together to prevent addiction

IAMNDN brings youth together to prevent addiction

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Comanche Nation Prevention and Recovery Center is trying to reduce underage drinking and prescription drug abuse among youth.

The organization held a summit called, "Culture is Prevention" in Lawton. The program is dedicated to empowering native youth to become outstanding leaders in the community.

The organizers say this event is all about different tribes coming together to reach one common goal of bringing their youth together to battle addiction.

Raquel Ramos is one of the organizers of today's summit.  She has been in drug recovery for 15 years.

"You don't wake up one day and say I want to be an alcoholic or I want to be a drug addict. It is a progression and once that progression grabs you. You don't know what to do with it and you become a recluse. You begin to not only doubt the people around you, you begin to doubt yourself," Ramos said.

Ramos helped create the program IAMNDN to prevent teens and young adults from making bad decisions when they feel pressured to do drugs.

"Whenever we give our youth that sense of belonging, and that sense of somebody knows and cares and believing in themselves. Then that's when we start to change their attitude and belief and behaviors," Ramos said.

Lawton High School Junior Malayna Dinwidde is the co-president of the IAMNDN program.  She said she sees her classmates get involved in dangerous behavior, and that inspires her to help.

"They are sad, depressed. They are being abused at home, they are not doing good in school or they feel alone. I don't want them to feel that way because I felt that way before," Dinwiddie said.

Since last year the IAMNDN program has reduced their underage drinking rate by 50 percent. Ramos says she wants to challenge and change the stereotypes. The future of Native people undeniably rests with the youth.

"Tribes don't play well together and for the youth from different tribes to want to come together to make a difference in Indian countries is a huge success. Well, it is one thing for us to empower our youth, but if we don't empower our adults, professionals that actually deal with our youth, then all we are doing is empowering our youth," Ramos said.

They handed out a notebook to the kids today with underage drinking and prescription drug abuse facts and myths. The notebook also has a list of emergency hotlines teens can use if they ever feel pressured or in danger of using drugs or alcohol.

To join the movement and stop drug prevention, you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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