Searcy man honored for substance-abuse prevention work

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published June 27, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 26, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.
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— Heath Owens has worked in the substance-abuse field for about three years now, but he is already getting recognition for his hard work.

Owens, who is the prevention program specialist at Health Resources of Arkansas, said he came into the field by chance.

“I was working as a busser at a restaurant, and I was getting tired of that job,” Owens said. “I saw a position come open as an administrative assistant.”

While he was still a student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Owens began his career with Health Resources of Arkansas.

“I worked for them part time while I was in college, and they promoted me last year,” said Owens, a 2012 UCA graduate.

For his prevention work in substance abuse, Owens received the Outstanding Newcomer Award from the Arkansas Prevention Network at the Midsouth Summer School, held June 9-14 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

This was the first award for Owens in his field of expertise.

“I was a little shocked at first,” Owens said. “I thought it was very generous of them.”

In his current position, Owens said, he works with five counties to provide technical assistance with their substance-abuse programs.

“I work with them to assess substance-abuse programs in their counties,” Owens said. “I do a lot of different things.”

Owens uses his skills to plan programs within communities to address substance-abuse issues, he said.

“I’ve done a suicide-prevention media campaign and an alcohol-awareness media campaign,” Owens said.

He also said he works with local schools to plan programs with students to encourage drug-free living, as well as bullying prevention.

Originally from Fox, Owens’ journey to becoming an Outstanding Newcomer didn’t come easy, he said.

While he was still enrolled at UCA, he worked and lived in Mountain View, driving back and forth to Conway for classes.

He now lives in Searcy, where Owens said he enjoys working with the community.

“I love meeting different people,” Owens said. “I work out different policies in the community, contact the mayors or judges, and work with many people.”

Owens said he wants to continue with his education in the future.

“I’m planning on getting my master’s degree in social work,” Owens said. “I want to break into the mental-health field but still want to work in substance abuse.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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