How often are you intentionally using your power of influence to cause a better world for the people right around you?
When we think of influential people we might think of celebrities or politicians or thought leaders who seem to be shaping the world as we know it, however, when it comes to the beliefs of those people that you care for in your everyday life, YOU indeed do have a great amount of influence. You are the “influencer” to your family and friends. If each of us realized the power of our own personal influence on those around us and began intentionally using that power on a frequent basis, we could influence each other towards healthier and happier lives.
One social issue in which personal influence can be very impactful, is in the work to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Chances are by statistics, most people reading this newsletter know somebody who has experienced or is experiencing addiction. However, one does not need to know a person experiencing addiction to be a helpful part of the solution! The issue of addiction is vast and will need a multi-faceted community approach to solve, but as we individuals are part of the community, here are a few ideas on what our roles can be, why it is important that we act, and a look at a statewide campaign that is helping youth to realize their power to influence to their peers.
WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO?
Often the size of the issue is so overwhelming that we don’t even think to start working on it, or we question if we can make a difference at all. The truth is every action makes a difference. Think of each action or effort, as a brick in a house that you are building. Placing one brick on one day will not build a house. However, if you place bricks frequently or better yet get your friends to help place bricks the house can be built faster. So what are the “bricks” when it comes to actions that use your influence to reduce addiction? Here are 3 quick ideas:
- Starting conversations at home, work and even with your peers. You do not need to know the answers to start simple conversations such as, “Have you heard there are a lot of drug overdoses reported in Delaware?” or “Do you know anyone who uses pills that aren’t prescribed to them? The point is to bring the issue into light so it can begin to be dissected and discussed.
- Sharing a social media post. It can be facts about addiction, or resources of where to get help, or even words of encouragement to inspire people towards healthy lifestyles. To find facts or resources to post with local information, there are plenty of facts and resources located at www.HelpIsHereDE.com including the latest information about Narcan and Fentanyl.
- Be civically engaged. For those with a strong passion to help and who are willing to go above and beyond the conversations and social media posts there are plenty of ways to get involved in the community efforts to reduce drug addiction including attending a Narcan training, bringing old prescription drugs to drop off centers to safely dispose, attending one of many prevention themed events throughout the state including the great events hosted by SCHC such as last summer’s Rockin’ For Recovery!
THE IMPORTANCE OF DESTIGMATIZING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT DRUGS AND ADDICTION
With 1 Delawarean dying from an opioid overdose every 22 hours we have a serious health crisis occurring. Addiction is a disease, but one that currently can have a stigma attached to it. This stigma makes it so that people who need help are not seeking it due to the fear of being ashamed or embarrassed. There is a deadly entity in our state that is not only killing a Delawarean a day but also affecting many more families, and impacting the workforce, yet we are afraid to speak about it. We therefore are allowing it to spread like a wildfire we hope will vanish by simply looking the other way. It won’t vanish without our efforts.
There are people in the dark, people we know and love, and the light at the end of their tunnel can be us if we can only begin to use our influence to destigmatize addiction. That can start with a simple post on social media, or a conversation. Make it clear to your network of family members, friends and peers, that you will not judge them for experiencing addiction so that they can walk towards that light and get the help they need. The more effort you make, the more light you shine.