THOSE most at-risk of developing drug and alcohol problems will be targeted in an increased push for early intervention across Ballarat and the Goldfields region.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network commissioned UnitingCare Ballarat to deliver a $419,000 counselling service to tackle misuse issues through to June 2018.

UnitingCare Ballarat chief executive officer Carolyn Barrie said in a statement on Thursday the funding would fill a gap in the region’s drug and alcohol services.

Programs under the funding would target those most at risk as identified by their general practitioners, emergency services and non-government organisations. It can also help family members affected by drug or alcohol misuse.

Western Victoria PHN acting chief executive officer Kate Barlow said locally designed programs helped better meet specific community needs and issues.

"We know that if alcohol and other drug use is treated early, people will recover more quickly which will significantly reduce the impact on families and the community,” Ms Barlow said.

“This approach puts the individual at the centre of health care.”

Funding will also help build community awareness to screen at-risk people, identify use early and make timely referrals to treatment intervention.

UnitingCare will work closely with other frontline services and community organisations to co-design programs. The funding is part of a $1.6m package for western Victoria.

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