New Jersey has been invited to join in a national project that hopes to eventually erase the consequences of substance abuse and addiction among today's youth. The main goal is to stop the problem before it begins.

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The three-year initiative would focus mainly on ways to improve access to effective screening and intervention services, specifically an approach known as SBIRT: Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment.

According to a press release from New Jersey Citizen Action, one of the participating groups, the project seeks to boost the number and types of locations where youth ages 15 to 22 can access these services, and increase the number and types of professionals who can conduct screening and brief intervention.

"What we're seeing is that early detection and intervention, if utilized more frequently, could really help stem the tide of addiction," said Maura Collinsgru, NJCA project director. "Too often, youth present hallmarks and symptoms of substance use disorders, but are not caught by clinicians working with them, or physicians, or other people that they're involved with."

Collinsgru said she believes New Jersey was one of five states chosen to participate in the effort because of its ever-growing issue of opioid overdoses.

Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Christie announced the statewide expansion of a program that allows police to carry and administer a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.