Otero and Crowley County Public Health Director Rick Ritter announced Monday that the Health Department has received a noncompetitive grant award of $91,000 per year for two years to initiate programs aimed at prevention of youth substance abuse.

Otero and Crowley County Public Health Director Rick Ritter announced Monday that the Health Department has received a noncompetitive grant award of $91,000 per year for two years to initiate programs aimed at prevention of youth substance abuse. To receive the grant, the health department was requested to complete a community health assessment and submit it to the state along with their application for the grant, which they did.

This is a cooperative program, said Ritter, which will involve programs in cooperation with Southeast Health Group and Valley-Wide Health Systems as well as local schools and other public institutions.

The program will be conducted at three levels: 1. primary - health promotion, encouraging good health practices and not starting drugs (marijuana and tobacco included), alcohol or habitual prescription drugs; 2. secondary - mediating use of such drugs as high blood pressure medication with diet and exercise; 3. tertiary - after an incident of drug, alcohol or prescription abuse, helping the individual get back to a healthful existence.

Ritter is happy to include the Board of Health and the Commissioners in a public health program in which the use of alcohol, prescription drugs and marijuana are addressed. The emphasis will be on primary prevention. The health department will work in cooperation with Southeast Health and Valley-Wide Systems, avoiding duplication of efforts. Strategies at the community level will focus on community issues, with family issues included.

A new director will be employed to manage the program.