NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Prom season just around the corner.
As students celebrate, many parents worry about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. That’s why there’s a new tool in Suffolk County to give parents some peace of mind.
“As we go into prom season, as we go into graduation, we know there’s going to be a lot of celebrations and there potentially is going to be a lot of alcohol and drugs that could be used,” Presiding Officer Duwayne Gregory told CBS2’s Reena Roy.
County officials hope to prevent tragedies with the “Test, Don’t Guess” program, rolling out thousands of free, take-home kits that allow parents to test their kids for alcohol and drug use.
“We want them to be able to have that difficult conversation now, than have to have that knock on the door,” Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said.
Linda Ventura, of Holtsville, unfortunately got that knock six years ago.
“On March 14, 2012, my middle son, Thomas, died to substance use disorder, specially a heroin overdose,” she said.
She believes the small kits could make a big difference.
“Without a doubt, absolutely,” she said. “On a Friday night, when they come home, test them.”
Ventura said it also opens up a dialogue in the family and gives teens an incentive to say ‘no’ in the face of peer pressure.
“Let’s catch it before it escalates into something that is really quite traumatic,” she said. “No parent wants to belong in the club that I unfortunately belong to.”
In Nassau County, parents can request free testing in person at the county’s police precinct.
Experts say, the sooner you test, the better.