Problem in My Community

What’s the problem in your community? The problem from where I grew up, which is Bethel, Alaska, is alcoholism and drug abuse. It doesn’t matter what age you are, whether you are legal or illegal to drink, it is still a problem. But there are solutions to help people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.

Using alcohol and drugs can be very dangerous. Did you know that these substances are the leading causes of crime and suicide among not just youth, but to everyone who uses drugs and alcohol? This is why I’m against it. I’m not saying everyone is using it, but people over the age 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs and there are more than 23 million people according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)

People who use alcohol and drugs use it for many different reasons. Depression, pressure or just to feel “good” when the truth is, it is bad for the human body. First of all, the brain doesn’t fully develop until you reach the age 23-25.

During the teenage years, the brain is much more vulnerable to addiction and Above the Influence says, “90% of Americans with a substance problem started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says the subgroup makes up 31.5% of alcoholics are under the age of 25. The human body or brain is still growing and developing when you’re in your teenage years or early 20’s and drug abuse during years in particular can have a lasting impact. Meaning there are long-term effects that happen to your body if you use drugs or alcohol.

There are ways you can do to help yourself if you or someone you know who has a drug or alcohol problem. Start by recognizing that you have a problem, a lot of people who are addicted deny that they don’t have one. The next one is removing all the temptation to use the substances, do something to keep your mind off it like a sport or hang with friends who don’t drink or do any drugs. If you have friends that do nothing but drugs and alcohol, then remove them and find or meet new people who don’t so that you don’t get tempted to use them while trying to quit. If these steps aren’t really helping you, then seek treatment or a Self Help Group. If you can’t help yourself to stay away from using any drugs and alcohol, then treatment is the best option or solution to your addiction problem.

Melissa Raphael
Bethel, AK

High school activities bring communities together

Pep rallies. Friday night lights. Running trails. Swimming pools. Courts. The new school year is here! And that’s exciting news for student-participants and high school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games. It teaches important life lessons, too. In fact, high school athletes not only have higher grade point averages and fewer school absences than non-athletes, they also develop the kind of work habits and self-discipline skills that help them become more responsible and productive community members.

Attending high school activities teaches important life lessons, too.

Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams, and still have a common bond.

That’s why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It’s not only an opportunity to cheer for your hometown team, it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality. And that’s something our country needs right now.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based, high school activities are enhancing their lives, and ours, in ways that few other events could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.

Many of the high schools in our state lie at the heart of the communities they serve. They not only are educating our next generation of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin!

Bob Gardner, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations Billy Strickland, Executive Director of the Alaska School Activities Association

Every day is internet security day

Being safe online is important every day. There may be days devoted to internet security awareness, but you need to be careful every time you go online.

Do you know what it takes to be safe online? You probably connect daily to get information, shop, socialize, or work. Every time you go online, you need to avoid the risk of theft or fraud. Here are some tips to use while visiting the Social Security website and the other websites you use.

·Use Strong Passwords–Strong passwords have at least eight characters and include capital letters, numbers, and non-letter characters. These passwords make it harder for someone to hack your account.

·Don’t Recycle Passwords–Although it requires effort to think of new passwords constantly, it provides safety when you do. What if you use the same password for every site and you lose your password? If someone finds it, they could get access to all your accounts. Many people choose to reuse — don’t be one of them.

·Take Advantage of Multifactor Authentication–Many websites offer the option to use a second factor—or method—in addition to just a username and password to ensure that only you access your information. Using more than one factor to establish identity makes it harder for someone to get into your account and steal your personal information. Beginning June 10, 2017, Social Security requires multifactor authentication to access a my Social Security account. Customers choose whether to receive a one-time security code to either their phone or email in order create a new account or sign into their account. Visit this link to find out more about how to secure your personal my Social Security account: Consider using multifactor authentication whenever it’s offered to protect your information.

·Read Scam Alerts–For information about fraudulent activities related to Social Security, you can find information at our blog Social Security Matters under the Newsroom section at One way to avoid identity theft is to create your own my Social Security account, if you haven’t already. When you have an account, no one else can set up an account using your information. Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General investigates fraud involving Social Security and they publish Fraud Advisories at The Federal Trade Commission website publishes information about scams that appear in the news at You’ll want to be aware of current scams to avoid being tricked.

·Review Your Online Accounts and Credit Reports–Just as you review your earnings record with Social Security for accuracy at, you should review your bank and credit card accounts for accuracy. Get a free copy of your credit report available annually from the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) at and check it for incorrect entries.

Protecting your identity can be daunting. Guarding your personal information requires investing some time, but is worth it. Discourage theft and fraud by adopting these security practices when you use the internet.

Robin Schmidt
Social Security Administration
Alaska Public Affairs Specialist