Recently there has been quite a few deaths in my area of young people overdosing or losing their battles to drug addiction.

It's a very scary and sad thing to see, but it makes me wonder why the number of drug-related deaths continues to rise. We were the generation that went through the D.A.R.E program and had one of the greatest childhoods. It just makes me wonder, what happened to those that changed the trajectory of their life by saying yes to drugs?

One of my childhood friends passed away last year due to her taking heroin laced with fentanyl and I saw how all of her friends, family, and acquaintances mourned her death. Our local community just lost a son, brother, and friend to addiction. My college friends have even known peers, family friends, and even best friends that have let drugs literally take their lives.

Drug addiction is real and entrenched within the youth and young adults in our society.

"I grew up in a drug infested town. A heroine overdose was frequent and four kids I graduated with have been in jail due to running meth labs. Drugs destroyed my town and the students with potential in them. A friend form my high school died of an overdose due to the drug being laced with fentanyl. Our town mourned but continued to use. I hope one day we learn the impact of drugs before everyone gets addicted." -Mackenzie

Drug addiction doesn't just affect the user but it affects everyone in their life, and sometimes those that don't even know him/her. Parents, siblings, friends, and other family take a toll emotionally, physically, and mentally when they know someone dealing with drug addiction. When someone dies from a drug-related death, a whole community feels it. They'll mourn for days, weeks, months, and even years. There will be people in the community that didn't know the person, but their heart will ache for the family.

"As a first responder I've been to many overdoses/drug related emergencies. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with, and unfortunately it has become a part of society. As much as I've seen and dealt with it, I don't know what to do because it's a terrible situation and every time I always find myself asking the same questions of why it happens. You know, why does it have to be the good kids? Why does it have to be the mom and the dad that are working class people, who spend all their time trying to cope with a disease that is simply terrible and there's no cure for it?" -Bill

I've always wondered what we need to do to limit and ultimately stop drug use and addiction.

Do we need to implement the D.A.R.E program in middle schools and high schools? I remember going through the program when I was in elementary school, but we didn't touch the subject of drugs again until senior year of high school. Maybe if we implement more programs and reminders it will help. Do we need to implement more safe areas for students to turn to if they deal with drug addiction? Maybe if we do so, students will feel more comfortable getting the help they need before it can't be reversed. I don't know what will help this epidemic of drug addiction, and maybe no one really does, but it can start with us.

Peer pressure is real and it's hard to overcome, I get that. But please take the time to stop and think.

If someone asks you to use a drug or try to persuade you into taking it, think about what it could do to you. You may say "oh, one pill will make me feel great tonight but I won't do it again after tonight." But the reality is, drugs can quickly grasp onto you and your life. I promise you will never be a fool if you say no and figuratively and literally walk away.

You and only you have the power to say "no" to drugs, and affect the entire trajectory of your life.