Chippewa County receives grant to prevent youth substance abuse

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Since 1994, the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership has combined county forces to work to improve community health in Chippewa County.

A new study finds one in 10 senior adults are abusing alcohol. (Pixabay)

"A lot of people in Chippewa County feel that mental health and substance abuse is a top unmet health need in the community," said Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman.

This week, CHIP was awarded a $625,000 grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The money will be used towards preventing youth substance abuse in the county.

"I think in the Chippewa Valley we do have a culture that alcohol is kind of accepted, so a lot of teens will tell you that they don't see drinking as a problem or as a big deal," said Weideman.

As part of the grant, CHIP will focus on alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana prevention.

According to the Chippewa County Youth Risk Survey, 32 percent of students in the county had at least one drink 30 days before taking the survey.

"The younger that a youth starts using a substance the more likely they are to become addicted to a substance. So we really want to prolong the use until at least after age 15," explained Weideman.

With the money, CHIP plans to hire a coordinator to work with law enforcement, the school district, and the community on different prevention measures.

"Education is a big part of it in and working with our community partners but we also look at systems and policy changes as well," says Weideman. "So just one example would be if there was a clean air act that says you can't use tobacco products in public, that might not include vaping or e-cigarettes. So if we could include vaping and e-cigarettes in that."

Weideman says the grant will allow the county to put more resources towards the issue.

She says the two main goals are trying to reduce the number of children served alcohol at home, and reduce the number of middle school students using vaping devices.

The $625,000 grant will be given out over the course of five years.