Published: May 14, 2013 4:07 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) of Lee County is once again offering free drug test kits to parents of Lee County youth in an effort to curtail juvenile substance abuse.

Research shows that, on average, it takes two years for parents to discover their child has a drug problem. A recent survey of Lee County youth indicates one-third of middle school students have tried illicit drugs. The average age a Lee County youth first tries marijuana is age 12.

JAC Manager Bill Naylor says having a drug test kit at home sends the message that drug use is unacceptable, and can be a strong deterrent against using drugs. Just as parents check their child's report card to verify how they are performing in school, drug testing at home can show a youth is successfully saying "no" to drugs. If a youth does test positive for drugs, a family can begin to access services in the community before the problem becomes serious.

In addition to the drug test kit, parents will receive information regarding use of the kits as a drug prevention tool, ideas for talking to kids about drug use and warning signs of substance abuse.

Parents can pick up their free drug test kits anytime from the Juvenile Assessment Center, located at 2107 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Fort Myers. Parents will need to spend approximately five minutes with assessment center staff to receive instructions on how to use the drug test kits.

For more information, parents can call the Juvenile Assessment Center at (239) 258-3450.