- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Health care providers across New Hampshire will use a nearly $630,000 grant to implement a new program to screen youth and young adults for substance abuse.

The funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation will allow recipients to expand use of a proven screening program for patients between the ages of 12 to 22, with the goal of stopping substance misuse before it starts. Officials say there currently is no standard protocol for medical professionals in New Hampshire to screen teens or adults who may be at risk for substance abuse disorders, but the new program will incorporate specific questions into routine medical visits.

The program will start at five hospitals, primary care clinics and community health centers, with five to seven additional sites expected to join later.

The program eventually will allow for the screening of up to 10,000 youth across the state, said Tym Rourke, director of substance abuse grant making at the Charitable Foundation.

“These five early adopters will help set the stage for the future of this critical service in health care settings throughout New Hampshire,” he said.

Expanding the use of the screening program is part of a larger Charitable Foundation 10-year, $12 million initiative to reduce substance abuse rates among New Hampshire’s youth. The foundation says it has seen promising signs with recent prevention investments, but the state still ranks highest among states for its rate of underage drinking.

The initial grants went to Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth, Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.

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