Published in the August 11, 2015 edition

Public health officials, law enforcement leaders and elected politicians across the Commonwealth refuse to hide the fact that Massachusetts — like a lot of other states in America — has a serious opioid addiction problem.

Last year an official public health emergency was declared and a task force created to come up with solutions to dealing with people who get addicted to hard drugs like heroin and Oxycontin. Two months ago the task force released its findings, saying, in part, “Over the past decade, more than 6,600 members of our community have died because of opioids and behind those deaths are thousands of hospital stays, emergency department visits and unquantifiable human suffering inflicted upon individuals, families and our communities.”

In our opinion, the best way to prevent opioid addiction and overdosing is to not start using drugs at all. That is why an annual event held on the shore of Lake Quannapowitt each summer is so important.

The Wakefield Lynnfield Lodge of Elks hosts Common Ground Saturday, Aug. 15, from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Lower Common. This outing for children is part of the club’s drug awareness program “Say Not to Drugs.”

This is a chance for young people and their parents or caregivers to meet Wakefield Police, other local first responders and representatives from other safety and law enforcement agencies in the area. You can explore vehicles that will be parked on the Common and ask personnel any questions you want.

There is always fund involved in the Elks’ outing, which includes games, food and many more attractions. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. down by the Lake too.

At 1 p.m., there will be a raffle for bicycles (two full-size and one youth-size). Children must be between the ages of 5 and 14 for the full-size bike and age 4 for the youth-size bicycle.

This event is free and open to everyone.

Children must be present and accompanied by a parent or guardian.

It is a fun way to get this message across: Be healthy and stay away from things that can kill you.

Especially drugs.