CamarenaStrong Clubs

Student-Led Substance Abuse  Prevention in High Schools. 

Substance abuse has been an ongoing challenge to American (and global) society for decades, yet recent years have seen significant increases in addiction and  overdose death from the frighteningly potent illegal drugs available to even casual  drug users. While society continues to lean on law enforcement and treatment efforts  to fight back in those directions, public education against substance abuse also needs  to be a top national priority. This is particularly true in our schools, as all studies  show that serious substance abuse often begins in high school or earlier.  Unfortunately, however, most schools do not have organized drug abuse prevention  education programs. Students deserve to learn basic information about the hazards  of substance abuse to them personally, to their families, to their schools, to their  communities and to the world community. The establishment of the  CamarenaStrong Club program is intended to help remedy that lack of education by  harnessing the power of the students themselves to engage, educate and encourage  their peers to live healthy and positive lifestyles.  

Why “CamarenaStrong”? 

One of the most tragic events in the history of U.S. drug law enforcement was the  1985 murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. This event was one  of the most cowardly and reprehensible acts ever perpetrated in DEA’s history, an  event which involved the kidnapping of DEA Agent Camarena in broad daylight by 

drug traffickers with the complicity of the Mexican Police, the ensuing drawn out  torture and interrogation, followed by a well-orchestrated cover up by Mexican law  enforcement and government officials. The impact that this event had on public  awareness of drug trafficking, nationally and internationally, is without parallel. It  drew media attention from the day that “Kiki” went missing to months and even  years after. It drew the outrage of the American public which, for the first time ever,  saw the true dark images of what drug trafficking was all about and to what depths  the drug traffickers would sink to maintain control in order to reap astronomical  profit. 

These tragic events served to reinforce the nation’s efforts against drug trafficking  and abuse. It gave rise to numerous anti-drug organizations and revitalized others  but most importantly it awakened the American public. Kiki’s loss became a  historical marker for ensuing change that brought about public awareness in the  schools, civic organizations and businesses. Red Ribbon Week was established by  the U.S. Congress as an annual reminder of Agent Camarena’s ultimate sacrifice in  the struggle against substance abuse and to bring ongoing awareness to substance abuse prevention education. The Camarena family established the Enrique S.  Camarena Educational Foundation (ESCEF) to promote prevention education across  the U.S. 

CamarenaStrong is a name intended to evoke the sacrifice of DEA Special Agent  Camarena and the cause for which he gave his life. CamarenaStrong Club members  will be carrying on with the mission to educate students and broader society about  the hazards and costs of substance abuse. 

CamarenaStrong Club Requirements 

An established CamarenaStrong Club will require sponsorship by a school staff  member. The students will have three minimum requirements that club members  must organize for their campus during a school year:  

A) To conduct a substance abuse prevention education campaign for the  campus during Red Ribbon Month, such as a prevention poster contest, or a PSA  contest, or any other creative method the club members and school select.  

B) To engage with school administrators to organize a substance abuse  prevention assembly. 

C) To prepare and deliver peer-to-peer substance abuse prevention messaging at the end of the school year to 8th graders in the middle schools that feed into the  high school hosting the CamarenaStrong Club.  

Additional CamarenaStrong Club Activities 

Community Engagement: Members of the CamarenaStrong Clubs will be  encouraged to engage with professionals in their communities who contribute to  fighting, preventing and treating substance abuse. Substance abuse counselors,  psychologists, social workers, police officers, medical examiners, juvenile court  judges, probation officers, emergency department doctors and nurses, and drug  treatment center operators are just a few examples of the types of professional adults  who can support and provide information and presentations to CamarenaStrong Club  members and their student peers. ESCEF will provide information and tools to  facilitate student understanding of these professional roles and to engage with them. 

Partnership with CADCA coalitions: Most communities have active community  coalitions funded by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. Partnership  with these coalitions will provide the CamarenaStrong Clubs even greater access to  information, resources and local support. 

Social Media Production: Club members will be encouraged to develop educational  content for distribution on social media through the ESCEF and CamarenaStrong Club.