Published on Thursday, December 6, 2018 in the Taos News
It is time that the drug, alcohol and crime problems in our community and the surrounding communities be addressed. I know there are several steps to accomplishing this, but I believe the first step is prevention. I would like to ask and encourage communitywide support for Vida Del Norte, which is a coalition that is addressing the drug and alcohol problem in our community starting with the youth.
In 2017 the use of alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills was higher among the students at Questa High School than at the other Taos County Schools as well the at the statewide level. When I read those numbers, I was shocked as I always knew there was a problem in Questa, but never realized it was worse in our community than others.
Through preventative measures, Vida Del Norte is looking to address these problems among our youth. The youth are our future, and addressing the drug and alcohol problems in our community begins with them. The mission statement of Vida Del Norte is “To unite northern Taos County communities in preventing and decreasing youth substance abuse.”
In 2017, the coalition received a Drug-Free Communities Grant, which is funding the coalition and a full-time employee, Maria Gonzales. The coalition is seeking communitywide support through 12 sectors, including local government, businesses, citizens, the media, law enforcement, the faith community and public health.
The coalition also includes a couple of youth members who attend all coalition meetings. The village of Questa has already partnered with Vida Del Norte, allowing the group to have offices and meetings at the Questa Youth Center.
I am a member of this coalition, and I would like to encourage all community members and businesses to support this coalition and spread the word about its efforts. This is an issue that affects all members and areas of our community, and the coalition needs communitywide support.
This is a great start, and we hope the future is looking great when it comes to addressing this issue. I see a bright future in our youth, and hopefully, with the efforts of this Coalition they will have an addiction-free and abuse-free lifestyle. With the efforts of the Vida Del Norte Coalition, I hope the community will also reap the rewards of being addiction and abuse free.