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.g1448579326urdor1448579326tem@e1448579326nyapd1448579326 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.




MDC Welcomes New Intern

IMG_4032-1We are delighted to introduce our newest intern, Aya Harasawa, an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee. Along with interning at MDC, she is spending her senior year pursuing a degree in public relations with a minor in business administration, serving as an Executive Chairman for Delta Zeta Sorority and working part-time at Copper Cellar. Outside of working and school, Aya loves traveling and experiencing new cultures. She has been to nine different countries, including Italy through the University of Tennessee’s study abroad program. Growing up traveling internationally and being raised bicultural has given Aya the vision to pursue a career in international communications.

In the past, Aya’s work and student experiences have developed her skills in interpersonal communication, management and problem solving. In her leadership role in Delta Zeta, Aya has worked extensively with event management, planning, risk management and prevention. She is excited to test her skills while interning at Metropolitan Drug Commission.

Aya’s hopes her time at MDC is not only to grow her management and planning skills, but also to gain more experience in writing and media relations. She is excited to learn and assist in social media outreach, as well as working with the Knoxville community against substance abuse.

Welcome to our team Aya! We look forward to seeing the work you accomplish this semester.

Alcohol: Don’t Let It Be Overlooked

Summer is almost over for Knox County. School will be starting up again August 10 and now is the perfect time to talk to your kids about one drug that is often overlooked.


Coming back to school from a long summer vacation is an exciting time for teens. They’ll be greeted by their favorite teachers, get to see their friends every day and get back to playing sports and participating in other extracurricular activities. Don’t let one of those extracurricular activities become alcohol abuse.

According to the 2013 Knox County Schools High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 60% of Knox County high school students have had at least one drink of alcohol during their lifetime.
  • 15.7% drank alcohol for the first time before 13 years of age.
  • 18.3% participated in binge drinking at least one day in the 30 days before the survey.

There are many reasons teens decide to start drinking, two of them being peer pressure and stress. It is easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social situation where they’re pressured to drink. Teenagers who believe alcohol makes it easier to socialize, for example, tend to drink more than those who don’t believe that alcohol loosens their social inhibitions. Teens are also at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems when alcohol is readily available at home or among their peer group, and if drunkenness is acceptable.

Teenagers find it a lot more difficult to cope with stress. This leads to anxiety, exhaustion and tension. Several conditions, like college entrance exams, relationships with friends and family, grades and more, can all be potential stressors for teenagers. Unfortunately, many teens turn to alcohol to relieve their stress.

Talking to kids openly and honestly about the risks of drinking can help reduce their chances of drinking. Set the stage early by letting your teen know that he or she can talk to you about anything, without judgment or lecturing.

It is important for teenagers to understand that alcohol is a drug and consuming it at an early age can simply be the start of a lifelong struggle with alcoholism. Ethanol, commonly known as alcohol, found in beer, wine and spirits is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect. Some researchers believe that heavy drinking at this age, when the brain is still developing, may cause lasting impairments in brain functions such as memory, coordination, and motor skills.

Drinking alcohol is an activity that will affect your teen in his or her every day life. Drinking disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This lack of sleep can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance. Drinking can also cause barriers in relationships due to a change in personality, like becoming angry or moody, when someone is under the influence.

While most people recognize the importance of discussing alcohol with kids, they are not always sure when to initiate this discussion. Adolescents are often nervous and confused as they face their first opportunities to try alcohol and are often interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Start the conversation now and allow your kids to have a safe and happy school year.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, GET HELP.

Prescription Drug Addiction in Young Athletes

In today’s society it seems like young athletes are experiencing more and more pressure to be the best at their sport. They practice year-round, participate in club leagues when they’re in the off season, take private lessons and more. Despite the increased work ethic and desire to succeed, young athletes are already more prone to injury because their bodies are still growing and developing.

What typically comes along with sports-related injuries? Prescription pain killers.

When these athletes are injured, it is natural for a doctor to treat the pain as well as the injury. “Young athletes who become addicted to pain pills (or heroin) almost always start out using simply wanting to get back on the field; it is only later that they become addicted to the drug,” Dr. Chris Stankovich, “The Sports Doc”, said. A study found in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse states that 12% of male and 8% of female high school athletes reported abusing painkillers in the last year.

Young athletes and their parents need to understand that although the teen’s pain is temporarily relieved by painkillers, it doesn’t mean their body is in the right condition to get back to their sport. The longer you postpone the healing process, the longer it will take to get back to 100 percent. Masking an injury this way can only lead to the risk of a greater injury and consistent use of painkillers can lead to a lifetime of addiction.

Accidents happen, but there are ways to prevent injuries in these athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends that young athletes should limit their sports-specific activities to five days a week with one complete rest day from all physical activity. In addition, the same council recommends young student athletes take at least 2 months off a year from a specific sport to properly rest and rebuild their bodies.

Addiction in athletes is not a myth; it is a problem that can be found at high schools all across the nation. Read From Athletes to Addicts, an article that tells the stories of real high school athletes in Albuquerque, New Mexico who were prescribed painkillers after suffering sports-related injuries and later became hooked on less-expensive and more easily attained opiates like heroin.

Don’t Let Booze Float Your Boat

The 4th of July, along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, typically account for more than one third of all boating related accidents and fatalities. Celebrate the holiday by boating sober. Not only is boating under the influence unsafe, it’s illegal.

Just like driving a car, it is against the law to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are convicted in the state of Tennessee, it will result in fines of up to $2,500 on the first offense, $2,500 on the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense. A jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days may also be imposed for any conviction and operating privileges may be suspended from one to ten years. Additional federal penalties may also be charged.

In 2013, 10% of all boating accidents were a result of alcohol abuse. Of that 10%, there were 75 deaths and 187 injuries. Alcohol use was #1 contributing factor in all deaths from boating accidents. Alcohol mixed with wind and sun exposure is a dangerous combination. Boaters are exposed to sun and wind, which can be dehydrating and increases the effects of even small amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant; it slows the function of the central nervous system and alters a person’s perception, emotion, movement; vision and hearing. When under the influence of alcohol, people can experience loss of coordination, staggering, slurred speech, feeling of confusion and disorientation and a dramatically slowed reaction time – all of which are necessary to safely operate a watercraft.

For example, if you’re under the influence of alcohol, imagine if you fall in the water – because you’re intoxicated you lose vital coordination skills. It will become much harder to swim back to safety or grab on to a life preserver. The shock of the cold water can also add to cramping and the very real possibility of drowning.

When you choose to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol you’re breaking the law and endangering yourself, your passengers and other boaters. Is it worth it?

Make this holiday weekend fun and safe. Boat sober.