By Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation plans to use a $2.25 million grant to help with a new substance abuse screening program for young adults.

The Hilton Foundation grant will enable the Charitable Foundation, in partnership with selected nonprofit hospitals, primary care and community health practices, to expand use of the screening program to people between the ages 12 and 22 with the goal of stopping substance use before it starts.

The foundation aims to screen 10,000 young people for substance use issues by 2017.

The program “gives clinicians the tools and confidence to screen young people for drug or alcohol use in a matter of minutes,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Levy said the screening is typically used in adult medicine and in emergency rooms. “Now it’s time to bring this to the primary care setting and reach teens and young adults before there’s a problem or before a small problem grows into a big one. And for patients dealing with addiction, guide them into the appropriate treatment,” she said.

The foundation will invite New Hampshire nonprofit hospitals, primary care providers and community health centers to apply for funding in February to implement the screening program.

The foundation says it is seeing promising signs of success with recent prevention investments, but notes that New Hampshire still ranks high among the states for its rate of underage drinking, young adult binge drinking and marijuana use by children ages 12 to 17.

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