AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine has won a $2.6 million federal grant to reduce underage drinking and cut down on drug abuse and marijuana use among young people.

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services will receive $891,000 per year for three years, according to a press release from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The federally funded grant is targeted at lowering alcohol use among those ages 12-20 and prescription drug abuse and marijuana use among those ages 12-25.

“This new grant will focus on supporting strong collaboration at the state and local levels to use proven prevention strategies that have produced positive, measurable results,” said Guy Cousins, director of the Maine’s Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

Over the three years, the state’s efforts will be coordinated by the Healthy Maine Partnership coalitions, which promote public health throughout the state. The partnerships include substance abuse prevention in their outreach initiatives and work with law enforcement, schools, employers, health care organizations and local governments.

“We know that we can reach our goals by working with state, district, and local partners,” Cousins said.

According to a March 2012 study about substance abuse in Maine, slightly more than a quarter of high school students in the state reported drinking alcohol over the prior month, a decrease from previous years. Just under a third of students who drank in 2011 started before the age of 13.

Last year, one in seven high school students reported misusing a prescription drug at least once, a drop from 2009.

Marijuana was the most often used illegal drug in Maine, with one in five high school students saying they had used it within the past month, the report found. Students said they thought were more likely to be caught by their parents than by police for drinking alcohol, and few feared getting in trouble with police for smoking marijuana.

Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and...