AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Horizon Behavioral Health (HBH) has announced that it will be partnering with the Amherst County Public Schools for the treatment of adolescents and their families starting in Fall 2023.

“We are very excited about this partnership with Horizon Behavioral Health to address substance use among our students,” said Marie Petrone, Director of Student/Family Wellness & Attendance, at Amherst County Public Schools.

This announcement comes after HBH was awarded a five-year $2.7 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to offer expanded treatment options for abuse disorders. The program will also assist with substance use and mental disorders to benefit children between the ages of 12 through 18 and transitioned youth of ages 16 through 25 in Central Virginia.

Patrone says during the last school year, school officials saw more than a 200% increase in substance-related disciplinary infractions. She says most of the disciplinary fractions are related to capes and THC-infused gummies.

“Changes to marijuana laws have made these products more accessible to students, and some students report buying them online. When students bring illegal substances onto school property, we want to hold them accountable for the safety risk that poses, but we also want them to learn from their mistakes. We believe partnering with Horizon will bring much-needed prevention and treatment to students so they can reach their full potential,” said Petrone.

The purpose of the program is to enhance and expand comprehensive treatment, early intervention, and recovery support services by including families and primary caregivers in the plan. The program will utilize behavioral therapy that seeks to harness social, recreation, and more.