The number of opioid deaths in Minnesota continues to climb, impacting families at the most personal level. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there were 376 opioid-involved deaths in 2016, up 12 percent from the year prior.

A local mom is reminding parents of those numbers this morning, and telling the story of her own family to reinforce that this is a crisis that can come knocking on anyone’s door.

“He showed up at school with a backpack full of pills in 7th grade, that rocked our world as you can imagine and the unfortunate part about that is that he found most of those in our own home,” said Pam Lanhart.

Lanhart says there are things she wishes she could have handled differently after learning about her son's substance abuse problem. He is now 20, and making progress on recovery. To help herself heal Pam started the nonprofit "Thrive Family Support," which aims to help families in a similar situation.

“There is no place for anger, there is chaos in your home and we understand that because we are driven by fear when we first find out that our loved ones are using substances,” said Lanhart. “How can we step out of that chaos? How can we move from a place of fear to a place of hope?”

She cannot stress enough the importance of having an open line of communication about the disease, and not to be afraid to reach out for help and support.

Pam, along with other community leaders and professionals, want to help answer the question "What do you do if addiction affects your community?" There is a free public forum tonight at the Diamondhead Education Center in Burnsville from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend. Another forum will take place this Thursday.