Last week a teacher was arrested for allegedly using drugs in her classroom. Because drug abuse has affected my family and I, this resurfaces the topic of drug abuse and addiction in our community.

When I was very young, my father was in a motorcycle accident. His doctor prescribed him multiple painkillers that my father would use frequently to make his pain subside. The pain would not disappear forever at the use of these drugs, though.

When his pain came back he returned to his doctor. He provided my father with more painkillers that he eventually became hooked on. My father slowly progressed to using hard drugs. His addiction caused my parents to get a divorce, forcing my mother to move away and raise her three young children on her own. I did not see my father very frequently, and I have now lost nearly all contact with him.

My entire life has been shaped by the irresponsible acts of a doctor who allowed my father a renewed prescription. I do not believe that my father chose to hurt himself and his family this way.

I am not the only one, though, who has been affected by addiction; it is a global issue that changes the lives of many people. According to a study conducted by Wallet Hub that ranks the severity of drug addiction by state, Indiana places fourteenth. Anyone can see that this is a prevalent issue in our own state and that it is important for us to understand the problem while not joking about it.

“What’s the number of deaths from overdoses and how has it gone up? How many people in our student body have been affected by their own issues with addiction?” Mr. Sean Begley, Principal, said. “This is something that we need to continue to address and not [try] to sweep under the rug. We have to look it in the eye and face it.”

My hope is that one day addiction will be viewed as a mental and physical issue that people take more seriously. If you or anyone you know has been affected by drug addiction, there are people that can help.

Chicagoland Narcotics Anonymous acts as a large discussion group for those who want to share their stories with addiction. The meetings are held in multiple locations to allow better access for attendees. To learn more about their mission and meeting dates and locations, visit http://www.chicagona.org. If you need immediate assistance, call the helpline at (708) 848-4884.

The Never Alone Recovery Center in Munster, IN provides a place of rehabilitation for those struggling with addiction. Individuals go through a four step program to begin their journey of recovery. The center costs little out of pocket pay or even none. Consultations concerning insurance coverage are given for free from the organization. You can contact them by calling the number (844) 364-4445 or by visiting their website www.neveralonerecovery.com.

Confidential Care, also in Munster, offers two different outpatient programs that allow recovering addicts to work or attend school while still receiving help. The facility accepts calls at any time with the number (219) 934-6410. The operators answer any questions that you may have about their services. Visit their website www.confidentialcare.com  for more information.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger from drug usage, call 911. The first step to getting help is recognizing that there is a problem and talking about it with someone.