NEW YORK (Reuters) - An in-school drug and alcohol abuse clinic is opening at a public high school on Long Island, the first of its kind in New York state and possibly in the nation, treatment advocates said on Wednesday.
Responding to soaring rates of substance abuse among students, the William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach will house the clinic starting in August.
It will be run by Daytop Treatment Services, a network of drug and alcohol abuse centers, at no cost to the school district. The clinic will provide counseling but cannot dispense methadone or other drugs.
"The school district is being incredibly proactive," said Daytop programs director Caroline Sullivan. "Other schools may have prevention programs, but this is a full-fledged treatment option with treatment done on site."
Substance abuse has "increased exponentially" among the 3,200 students at the school and there were 38 disciplinary hearings tied to drug and alcohol abuse in the last two years, according to documents filed by Daytop with the state of New York.
Partnership for a Drug-Free America said nationwide there are 19 "sober high schools," meaning the entire student body is either in recovery or has pledged to steer clear of alcohol and drugs.
On Long Island, the clinic in an otherwise typical public high school, is the first of its kind in New York and apparently no others exist elsewhere in the country, a Daytop spokesperson said.
The clinic's clients will include walk-ins, referrals from school officials in lieu of suspension and those ordered to treatment by a judge. Teachers and administrators will not know which students are involved in the program, tailored specifically to young people.
"There are very few programs that are adolescent specific," Sullivan said, despite the fact that "adolescents are starting to use at a much younger age."
Officials from William Floyd School District were not immediately available for comment.
Sullivan said that Daytop hopes similar programs will be introduced in other schools that have the same problems.
"If it's seen that we are prospering and having success, other school districts will jump on board," she said.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune