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Forums to address substance use

Sara Bowles

Editor's note: Sara Bowles, chemical health coordinator for the Hubbard County Drug and Alcohol Task Force, will be writing about youth chemical health issues on a regular basis in the Enterprise.

An issue of influence...

We hear the term used all the time: social influence, sphere of influence, strategic influence, driving under the influence. What does it really mean? Influence is power; the power to affect, control or manipulate something or someone. Influence is ability; the ability to change the development of fluctuating things such as conducts thoughts or decisions. Influence is said to determine someone's character or individual tendencies.

Is influence so definite, so beyond your own power or abilities? Or do you get to choose what influences you? What is your responsibility in influence? Do you know how you are influenced or when you are being influenced? What influences you? Is it your family, your friends, your faith, your boss, your desire, your addiction? Do you know when you are influencing others?

It is the mission of the Hubbard County Youth Drug and Alcohol Task Force to explore influence in our community. In particular, what influences our youth? We do a lot of complaining about the social influence of peer pressure, the strategic influence of the media and society's influence on our youth. We worry about them being under the influence of substances such as alcohol and drugs. But how are we influencing youth? Can we control the influence we have on them?

Our youth are our future we say, but do we treat youth in a way that they choose to be influenced by us? Do they see benefit from interacting with us? Do they feel loved and safe when they spend time with us? Are they happy with how they feel about themselves when they are around us? Do we help them decrease or forget the source of their stress when they are with us? When you answer these questions, bear in mind that in each situation you are in competition for influence with chemical substances. Our youth are enticed by what makes them feel good about themselves, what makes them feel happy, safe, with out stress.

In the upcoming months, the Hubbard County Youth Drug and Alcohol Task Force will be presenting opportunities for our community to learn about the influences of chemical substances on our youth and in our community. We will be conducting community forums on what is happening in the area as far as what is going on and what is being done in regard to substance use and abuse. We would like to get your perspective, your input and your influence.

Knowing the power of influence, what kind of influence are you? The young watch us and learn from us, whether we choose for them to do so or not. With everything you do, you influence others.

The Hubbard County Youth Drug and Alcohol would like to issue you a challenge: Look around and see who is looking back. Know that each of you have great power and ability: To influence. How will you choose to use yours?

For more information contact Sara Bowles at 218-252-8275, or go to