New sports training program teaches coaches how to identify substance abuse

Posted: Updated:
CORAM -

A new school sports training program in Suffolk County is helping school coaches identify and understand the warning signs of substance abuse.

The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence is running the 75-minute course, paid for with a $100,000 grant from the county.

"This training is engaging coaches, giving them necessary information to identify signs and symptoms -- to give them concrete resources through... case examples of suggestions of what they can do," says Steve Chassman, a substance abuse counselor.

Middle and high school coaches from three districts have gone through training. Sessions are available to other districts interested in bringing the program to their community.

Krista Bertschi of Coram says she wants to help prevent families from going through the heartache she did after she lost her son Anthony, 21, to a fentanyl overdose. Anthony boxed, wrestled and played football.

Ward Melville High School boys varsity basketball coach Alex Piccirillo tells News 12 he thought the training was eye-opening.

School coaches are certified through New York state and are required to get training in first aid, CPR and AED but not substance abuse.

Local lawmakers say they're hoping to work with the state to change that.

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