There is no denying that we have made great progress in recent years. Our economy is improving, jobs are coming back, and families are seeing significant improvements in quality of life. Finally, we are putting the recession in our rearview mirror, moving forward to a better future. However, we must remain diligent in our efforts to combat the forces preventing our progress toward a brighter tomorrow. Chief among these obstacles is the widespread epidemic of drug addiction, which is threatening to tear the very fabric that holds our communities together.

Addiction takes many shapes and sizes. It does not belong to any specific demographic, socioeconomic status or geographic location. It seeks to paralyze individuals, to make them a shell of what they once were. It pushes family members and friends away. It causes job losses, medical bills and evictions. Tragically, it takes the life of too many who had many years to live.

Yet we are not without hope. As powerful as drug addiction may be, prevention and intervention efforts can curb its devastating effects and save countless lives. These are most effective when driven at the community level by everyday citizens like employers, coworkers, neighbors and family members. Each person reading this can make a positive contribution to the fight against drug addiction with very simple actions.

One of the biggest ways to join this fight is to be aware of the resources we have right here at home. We have our very own Mental Health and Recovery Services Board that helps connect people to important and life-saving services. Serving all of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties, the Board also provides informational pamphlets and a 24-hour crisis hotline to help any person through drug addiction problems, suicidal thoughts, depression and other situations. You can reach that hotline by calling 1-800-826-1306, or you can visit their website, for more information.

On a state level, Governor Kasich initiated the Start Talking! initiative to give parents and employers ways to address drug issues with children and employees. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services partners with schools, community organizations, businesses and any interested group to provide insight on how to use prevention as the key resource against drug addiction. Their website,, is full of tips and advice as well.

Finally, a key way to get involved is to properly dispose of pain medications that contain opioids. If you or a family member has received a prescription for a powerful painkiller, it likely contains the same highly addictive elements found in heroin. Only take these medications as prescribed by your doctor, and lock them away from children. If you do not finish your prescription, you can turn in the unused pills to local law enforcement during a medication collection event. Call your local police or sheriff’s office for more information on pill disposal.

Addiction is powerful, but so is community. Together, we can work to limit addiction’s grasp on our friends, family members and neighbors.

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