By: Sarah Snyder
Officials say drugs and alcohol are continuously consuming the lives of hundreds of teens in the Basin. So much so that the State Department of Health has stepped in to help out. They've offered a rare and hefty grant to teens in the Ector County Youth Detention Center for substance abuse counseling.
The classrooms at the Ector County Youth Detention Center are packed out these days. About 80% of the teens that come in are dealing with substance abuse. It's a problem their counselors say is spreading across West Texas.
"I think we're seeing more of it," Substance Abuse Counselor Patricia Homer, said. "Just with the kids, it's being more accepted in the adolescent community. That's their way of escape. They don't feel like they can talk with adults."
But that's just what a new grant from the Texas Department of Health will do - help the young adults understand how to make better life choices.
"We hear a lot that they're bored," Homer said. "We can bring to them different ways of having fun other than using drugs and alcohol."
The Detention Center is getting enough money from the state to kickstart a counseling program for every teen inmate who needs help. They're getting the cash after the Permian Basin Community Center asked the Department of Health for help.
Each counselor will lead a prevention education class for individuals and groups seperated by age and gender.
The money from the grant will completely fund the program offering prevention and intervention counseling.
"They will be able to develop the interpersonal skills needed to be healthy, productive adults," Prevention Specialist Jason Navarette, said.