SMART Coalition addresses underage substance use at public forum


East Meadow parents, students, business owners, police and lawmakers met at the East Meadow Fire Department on Jan. 25 to, as a community, address the topic of underage substance use and abuse.

The Sustaining Motivation Achievement Resiliency and Tolerance Coalition aims to make positive changes in the community by hosting programs that raise awareness of drug and alcohol abuse. On Jan. 25, the coalition began its meeting by discussing with Nassau County police officers the process of responding to an overdose.

When police respond, they confiscate the overdose victim’s drugs and needles, question them as to where they got the substance and hospitalize them for roughly an hour. Arrests are never made as “if we make arrests, people are going to be afraid to call,” explained Joseph Monez, an officer of the Nassau County Police Department who specializes in community affairs.

Many times, however overdose victims will return home and start using drugs again. Monez explained that a number of recorded overdoses involve the same person. A solution that local lawmakers such as Thomas McKevitt (R, D-13) are proposing in the Nassau County Legislature is to mandate a 72-hour holding period for victims of overdose.

Another topic addressed at the meeting included Nassau County’s Social Host Law, which was passed in 2007 and serves to prevent underage drinking by fining adults who let it happen in their household.

This opened up a discussion on what parents could and should be doing to protect their children from drug and alcohol abuse.

One attendee voiced his concern that there is not enough communication between parents as too many either hold the “not my child” viewpoint or don’t care to regulate what their child is doing. The attendee received a round of applause when he said that he called a fellow parent to discuss the social life of their children— only to be rejected by the other parent.

“I don’t think enough of us are making those phone calls,” said Kristi Detor, a member of the Coalition and Director of Physical Education and Athletics at the East Meadow School District.

Ross Schiller, another member and past president of the East Meadow Kiwanis Club, agreed and said that parents could extend that conversation to business owners, especially those who sell tobacco, alcohol and vaping products so they know parents will not tolerate them selling to children.

All in all, the members of the coalition agreed that tackling underage substance use begins with communication.

With the goal of hosting a health fair and other community activities, the Coalition is currently applying for the 2018 Drug-Free Communities government grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Coalition will also be scheduling a drug take-back event, a naloxone-training event for the community and an upcoming Coalition meeting. To find out more, visit