Metropolitan Drug Commission Announces Name Change to Metro Drug Coalition

As of January 26, Metropolitan Drug Commission will change its name to Metro Drug Coalition. As the organization has evolved over the past 30 years, this new name reflects the mission and commitment to stop substance use in our community.

Metro Drug Coalition is an organization that is able to convene all concerned parties around the issues at hand. Governments, schools, businesses, treatment providers, medical community, etc. are brought together in a nonthreatening and collaborative way to address the substance abuse issues in our region.

“The Board of Directors has had several discussions over the past few years about the need to update our name,” said Webster Bailey, MDC Board President. “The name itself, ‘Metropolitan Drug Commission’ has a governmental feel, and MDC is not a government entity, although we were founded by leaders of city and county government 30 years ago. MDC is a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of the citizens of Knoxville. Changing our name to Metro Drug Coalition helps to better reflect the work we do.”

Since 1986, MDC has been an integral part of our county, city and state. It has continued to help improve the health of the greater Knoxville community by reducing the use of alcohol and drugs through policy, systems and environment change.

“Even though we are rebranding our organization, we want to stress that MDC’s support and long-term commitment to our community remains unchanged,” said Scott Payne, MDC Executive Director. “We will continue to fulfill our mission and vision of creating a healthy and safe community, free of substance abuse.”

“Substance abuse has become the major health issue in America and that’s no different here locally,” said Bailey. “There is a huge treatment gap for substance abuse and mental health and people are dying by the thousands. We absolutely have to come together, and MDC is the most logical organization to help lead the fight.”

This is the public roll out of MDC’s name change. The official name change of our 501(c)3 organization will take place later this year.

The Gift of Recovery

For the second year in a row, Cornerstone of Recovery, an alcohol and drug treatment facility located in Blount County, is giving away the gift of freedom for the holidays.

Two inmates from the Blount County Detention Facility, one male and one female, have been selected to take part in the treatment center’s full scope of inpatient, outpatient and aftercare programs, roughly two years in length.

“A member of our Cornerstone staff will pick the two participants up from the jail on Christmas Eve and bring them to treatment,” said Webster Bailey, Cornerstone’s executive director of business development and outreach. “They will get to wake up on Christmas Day in treatment, where they will be given the opportunity to start over. They can truly re-create themselves through our treatment program and we will do everything in our power to help them be successful in recovery.

“We’re giving this gift away at no cost to these individuals,” Bailey added. “It’s truly our Christmas gift to them.”

The scholarships, worth about $30,000 each, require that the new patients enter into a two-year commitment and must complete the program or return to jail. Both could have chosen to spend less time in jail, but have chosen to enter into a program of recovery that offers them a chance at meaningful change.

“This is not just a get-out-of-jail-and-go-to-treatment card,” Bailey said. “We’ve worked in concert with the Blount County Judicial System, specifically Ryan Desmond from the district attorney’s office and Judge William Brewer. Both the DA’s office and Judge Brewer have agreed to furlough these two individuals into the care of Cornerstone. If either of the participants choose to leave our facility prematurely, break our rules, or discontinue the therapeutic process for any reason, they will go back to jail.”

Those selected are non-violent offenders whose records indicate a drug and alcohol problem that can be better addressed by clinical treatment instead of prolonged incarceration. The goal is to offer rehabilitation to those afflicted by addiction and alcoholism, which in turn lowers the population at the Blount County jail and has a positive impact on the community as a whole.

Bailey said the first stage of treatment will be a residential inpatient program that lasts four to five weeks. The patients will then move to an intensive outpatient program for a 60-day period before spending time in a supportive living facility, similar to a halfway house, which can last up to six months. After that, they’ll go through an 18-month long aftercare program.

The scholarship program is the brainchild of Pam Spindel, a former Cornerstone counselor who also volunteers as a women’s chaplain at the jail. At Spindel’s initiative, Cornerstone administrators approached representatives of the Blount County District Attorney General’s Office, Blount County probation officers, the Blount County Public Defender’s Office and the Blount County judicial system to begin the process in 2014.

The selection process took about a month, and they ended up choosing a 20-year-old man and 37-year-old woman who entered Cornerstone’s treatment program on Christmas Day, 2014. Both completed the program and are available for interviews by local media.

For additional information, or to interview last year’s scholarship recipients and/or any of those involved in the process, please contact Webster Bailey at 865-696-0060.


*Text above from Cornerstone press release Dec 2015*

Media Relations Intern: My Experience at MDC

image1My internship at the Metropolitan Drug Commission proved to be a valuable, growing experience. I had the opportunity to learn from Deb Huddleston who serves as the Media Relations and Project Director at MDC. Working with Deb has given me a “real world” experience that has helped me acquire the skills and knowledge that are necessary as a rising professional.

Looking back on the past few months, I understand now that I went into this experience more naïve than I realized. I never knew how much there was to learn outside of the classroom and how much I would learn about myself. As an intern, I’ve become a stronger writer and researcher. I’ve learned to write content for blogs, newsletters, social media and other promotional materials. Becoming a more comfortable writer has helped me with my time management.

My biggest challenge was developing my communication skills and raising my confidence. My time at MDC really tested my confidence, and during the first half of my internship, I quickly learned that I was intimidated easily. This experience has helped me get practice, feel comfortable and confident. Being outside of my comfort zone was a challenge that I needed to overcome. It was probably my biggest learning experience as an intern. Although I still have a lot of growing and learning to do, the skills I’ve learned throughout my time at MDC will carry on with me wherever I go next

Aside from the professional skills, I also learned a great amount about MDC as an organization and the efforts the organization puts into the community. Prior to this experience, I wasn’t aware of the extent of East Tennessee’s drug epidemic. Hearing stories from speakers about their addiction journey, as well as visiting Cornerstone of Recovery, were eye-opening experiences that I would not have been able to learn from if it weren’t for MDC.

Through guidance and assistance from Deb and the rest of the staff, this internship has contributed to both my personal and professional development. Overall, my time at MDC was a learning experience that I am appreciative of. It has taught me lessons outside of the classroom that I will continue to carry with me.





#GivingTuesday: How are you giving back?

giving_tuesday_logostackedAfter Thanksgiving comes Black Friday and Cyber Monday—two days for getting deals. The Tuesday following Thanksgiving is known as #GivingTuesday.

December 1, 2015 marks the fourth annual #GivingTuesday. The one-day, charitable hashtag for social media was launched in 2012 in hopes of balancing the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a day of generosity.

It is a global day dedicated to giving back. Communities all around the world come together to celebrate philanthropy. Not only does it kick off the giving season but it also reminds us to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.

How are you going to give back on #GivingTuesday? Here are some easy ways to mark this day of giving.

  • Parents: you can find free, effective resources and tools to help deal with teen substance abuse on our website at
  • You can make a gift at our website to help us with our different programs we facilitate, such as SADD Chapters, Active Parenting and Grand Families:
  • Reach out to someone who needs to get on the path of recovery. For more information on treatment, you can call us at (865) 588-5550 or Tennessee Redline at 1 (800) 889-9789.
  • Look into volunteering opportunities by joining our drug-free community coalition! A few hours of your time each month can make a big difference in our community.
  • Do something thoughtful for another person in the spirit of MDC.

Whether it is helping a neighbor or supporting a charitable organization, there are many ways to give back. Anyone, anywhere can get involved with #GivingTuesday. Whatever you decide to do for #GivingTuesday, remember to pause and reflect on the reasons we can be thankful.

MDC is thankful for your support and the difference you make in Knoxville! Your gifts today and throughout the year are helping the community you love.

SBIRT Training Available

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment—also known as SBIRT.

SBIRT is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent problematic use, abuse and dependence on alcohol and drugs.

SBIRT consists of three major components:

Screening: A healthcare professional assesses a patient for risky substance use behaviors using standardized screening tools. This identifies the appropriate level of treatment.

Brief Intervention: A healthcare professional engages a patient showing risky substance behaviors in a short conversation, providing feedback and advice. It is a practice to encourage individuals to change their behavior by helping them understand the risks they are putting themselves in.

Referral to Treatment: A healthcare professional provides a referral to brief therapy or additional treatments to patients who screen in need of additional services.

Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur. The primary goal is to reduce the harms and costs associated with risky use such as disease, accidents and injuries, rather than just identifying alcohol or other drug-dependent individuals. The SBIRT process provides information and assistance that is fitted to the individual’s needs.

Born Drug-Free TN’s “Preventing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Through Assessment and Physician Guidance” training is on Tuesday, November 10 from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M. This training will equip doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and office staff to understand the disease of addiction, recognize the risk factors and causes of NAS, understand the process of SBIRT and learn ways to implement and administer brief interventions. This activity has been approved for 3 CME credits by the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. Cost to attend is $30 and dinner will be provided.

To register, email Devin at gro.g1454823161urdor1454823161tem@e1454823161nyapd1454823161 or call 865-588-5550 by November 6. 

This event is FREE for nursing and nurse practitioner students, but please register if you plan to attend.

NAS Invite Nov

Red Ribbon Week: Respect Yourself. Be Drug Free.


Red Ribbon Week is during October 23 to the 31. This is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention campaign spreads awareness to parents and youth in communities across the country.

The first National Red Ribbon Celebration was organized and sponsored by the National Family Partnership in 1988. Since then, the campaign has reached millions of lives. Communities across the country wear red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America. The Red Ribbon campaign serves to educate youth and encourage millions of people to participate in drug-free celebrations.

Each year, the campaign is integrated through a theme that helps broadcast one message. The message encourages and generates a tipping point to change behavior.

This year’s National Red Ribbon theme is “Respect Yourself. Be Drug Free.” The theme was chosen through a contest advertised all over the United States. The winner of the 2015 National Red Ribbon Theme Contest was Kristofer Calhoun, a middle school student from Ohio.

“Respecting yourself means looking at yourself every day and treating yourself like you would treat someone you loved most in the world,” said Calhoun. “If you do drugs, you really don’t have self-confidence and you don’t respect yourself.”

Red Ribbon Week is the ultimate way for people and communities to come together and take a visible stand against drugs. The Red Ribbon is a symbol of a personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. Take the pledge and be part of the creation of a drug free America.

To learn more about the Red Ribbon campaign and sign the Red Ribbon Pledge, visit

Mixing Booze with Boos

pumpkins-3Halloween is just around the corner and it is a time for fun and creating memories. But it is also a time of high risk for dangerous behaviors.

Halloween has become one of the deadliest nights of the year, especially with drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, half of the car crash accidents in 2009 that happened between 6 p.m. on October 31 and 6 a.m. November 1 were because of drivers under the influence.

In addition, a national report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stated that in 2011 between October 30 and November 1, 74 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver. This is more than a 20% increase compared to the average number of drunk-driving deaths per day in the U.S.

Law enforcement agencies take drunk driving on Halloween seriously and a DUI can cost you up to an average of $10,000.

But a high cost is not the only damage drunk driving can cause.

Children are more than two times as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night. With 41 million annual trick-or-treaters, drunk drivers put many people at risk. No mask or costume will be able to prevent you from the inconvenience, high cost and trauma that follow a drunk driving arrest or crash.

Halloween can remain a fun and happy celebration as long as you remember to stay safe and be smart. Don’t let turn your Halloween into a nightmare, and ensure that your friends and family understand the scary truth about Halloween and drinking.

Know the risks and choose to celebrate responsibly.

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

 In 2011, President Obama issues the first Presidential Proclamation designating October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. The tradition continues in 2015 as communities across the nation encourage prevention efforts in promoting a healthier, safer, drug-free America.

Millions of Americans are suffering from substance abuse, disrupting families, schools and communities. It limits the success of individuals and affects all aspects of our communities. Every day, someone makes the decision to try drugs or alcohol for the first time. This decision has a great impact on their well being.

  • In 2014, an estimated 27 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users
  • 1 in 10 individuals aged 12 or older in the US used illicit drugs in the past month
  • In 2014, out of the 139.7 million people aged 12 or older who drank alcohol, 60.9 million were binge alcohol users and 16.3 million were heavy alcohol users
  • More than one third of young adults in 2014 were binge alcohol users

An effective way to help people lead healthier lives is to focus on prevention strategies. Prevention is powerful and recent research has shown that each dollar invested in substance use prevention programs has the potential to reduce up to $18 in costs related to substance use disorders.

Substance abuse affects everyone, and we all can join in on helping the next generation make smart choices. As community members and as a Nation, it is upon us to engage in activities and programs that promote healthy lifestyles all around us. National Substance Abuse Prevention month recognizes those who work to prevent substance use in communities all across the nation. By educating people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, we can help set young Americans on a path toward a brighter, healthier and safer future.

MDC Welcomes New Executive Director


The Metropolitan Drug Commission is proud to announce Scott Payne as its newest executive director.

Payne states, “If you want to discover what a community needs, find out what its pain is.” Payne has almost a decade of experience in crisis center management and prevention work. Most recently, Payne served as the East Tennessee Coordinator for Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. This is where Payne began to develop a passion for understanding the importance of preventing substance abuse.

“Working to prevent suicide throughout East Tennessee has been rewarding.  However, the opportunity to work with an agency with the reputation of Metropolitan Drug Commission was too enticing to pass up. I feel fortunate to be the next executive director at MDC, and I look forward to years of leading this wonderful team as we fulfill the mission of our agency,” Payne said.

A Knoxville native, Payne cares for the wellbeing of his community. He has served as a board member for the Tennessee Alliance of Information Systems and Circle Center Consulting. Payne looks forward to getting involved with different organizations that align with the MDC mission.

MDC Board President, Keith Goodwin adds, “The board is thrilled to have Scott join the MDC team. He will be a wonderful asset to our organization.”

Payne holds a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. Prior to that, Payne received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

National Recovery Month

2015-recovery-month-logoWith the start of a new school year, a new football season and the transition into fall, the month of September seems to fly by every year. But let’s not forget what else September stands for: National Recovery Month. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Recovery Month and September 2015 marks its 26th year. The national observance educates Americans that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and DO recover.

Initially, substance use may be a person’s choice. But when addiction takes over, self-control is lost and treatment is necessary. Addiction is a chronic and complex disease. Craving, seeking and abusing substance not only affects organs in the body, but the brain as well.

Addiction is seen as a brain disease because of the way it changes the brain’s structure and how it works. The affect substance abuse has on a brain can change a person’s ability to think clearly and control behavior.


  • One in every twelve adults suffer from alcohol abuse
  • More than 90,000 people die yearly from alcohol and drug abuse
  • 480,000 people die each year from tobacco use

Those who suffer from a substance use disorder may feel lonely and helpless, but there is help within reach. Recovery can happen at any point. Sponsors and supporters come together during Recovery Month to host local community events. The numerous recovery and awareness events educate Americans that those suffering from a substance use disorder, can successfully recover to live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is happening everyday and it is something to celebrate about. Read personal stories from those who have shared the power of recovery.

If you know someone who is in need of help or a recovery group, please contact the Metropolitan Drug Commission.