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Celebrate local leaders at the Community Champion Awards lunch!

MDC will recognize five outstanding people who are making Knoxville a safer, healthier place to live on December 2 from 11:30 AM – 1 PM at The Foundry. Mayor Madeline Rogero will speak about the field of prevention and its importance in the East Tennessee area.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Coalition Member of the Year: Kim Pouncey, TopShelf Responsible Beverage Service
  • Commitment to Service: Sheri Smith, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital
  • Innovations In Prevention: Magistrate Dirk Weddington, Knox County Juvenile Court
  • Media Advocacy: Kent Stephens, WIVK
  • Recovery Services: Dr. Suzanne Bailey, Cherokee Health Systems

Space is limited. To RSVP, email Heather or call 588-5550.


Ready to quit smoking?

The Great American Smokeout is coming up on November 21. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco or cut down for the day and raises awareness of the many effective ways to quit for good

There are lots of resources to help you quit. You can call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine (1-800-QUIT-NOW) seven days a week to get set up with a Quit Coach and access to nicotine replacement therapies. The Knox County Health Department also offers helpful services to help you kick cigarettes for good.


MDC speaks out: FDA’s approval of new pure hydrocodone medication

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a powerful new painkiller, Zohydro, to help relieve severe chronic pain. Zohydro is between five and ten times stronger than hydrocodone medications currently on the market.

Despite its potency, the drug has no mechanisms to deter abuse. With opioid abuse rising exponentially, why isn’t the FDA requiring tamper-resistant technology?

MDC strongly disagrees with the FDA’s decision in this position paper.


Dispose of old medications this weekend


Prescription drug abuse is America’s fastest growing substance abuse issue. To overcome this problem, MDC encourages everyone to properly dispose of their old medications.

Take your old, unused or expired prescriptions to the next collection event this Saturday, October 26 from 10 AM-2 PM in downtown’s Krutch Park. Only personal medications will be accepted.

For more information about the event visit


Sister-To-Sister summit empowers young girls

IMG_4193The 8th annual Sister-To-Sister summit gave nearly 100 girls from Vine, Holston, Carter and Whittle Springs Middle Schools the skills to tackle challenges every young woman faces.

In small breakout sessions, the girls developed action plans for addressing drugs and alcohol, bullying, dating, peer pressure, body esteem and academics.

Check out pics in our Photo Gallery!


Nominate prevention leaders for the first Community Champion awards

Community Champion Awards- ThumbnailDo you know someone who is making Knoxville a safer, healthier, better place to live? MDC will be recognizing six community leaders in the field of prevention at the inaugural Community Champion awards. Nomination forms may be downloaded or filled out online. The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, October 22 at 5 PM.


Join us in celebrating Wellness Week

It is important for everyone to keep themselves healthy, especially those individuals suffering from mental or substance abuse problems. SAMHSA is hosting its National Wellness Week this month, encouraging people to improve their health behaviors. Improving your wellness will lead to a healthier mind, body and community. Remember, the road to wellness is a continuous journey.

Join us and take the pledge for wellness now!


“Be A Parent. Not A Peer.” campaign launches on WVLT Volunteer TV

526583_142922022536786_648903155_nThis fall, we have a special underage drinking message for parents: “You don’t always have to be the life of the party!” Don’t miss our commercial on WVLT Local 8 News during every Rivalry Thursday football game.

Check out more photos from our commercial shoot or watch the PSA!


Fake ID training for businesses on The Strip held this Monday!

Fake ID TableMDC has joined with UT’s SEE Center to offer a special fake ID training for servers, bouncers and bartenders on Cumberland Avenue.

Trainers from TopShelf Responsible Beverage Service and the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will lead the session. The Knoxville Police Department and University of Tennessee Police Department also will be on hand to answer questions about their enforcement efforts and offer their support.

More details can be found in our Media Room.


Want to help other parents raise healthy, successful kids?

APTnEasleyHugMDC is looking for local parents to host Active Parenting of Teens groups in Knoxville.

Active Parenting of Teens is an interactive video and discussion-based workshop that introduces parents to the struggles facing teens today, including sexual temptation, violence, and substance abuse. By becoming a group leader, you can help local parents develop the skills they need to parent their children more effectively.

If you, your company or church group would like to host Active Parenting classes, please Heather Sutton or call 588-5550.


Prevent child drug poisonings by requesting a free medicine safe

yhst-34521292266897_2269_49472927Unintentional drug poisonings are on the rise among young children. Fatalities have risen 80 percent since 2000 with prescription drugs contributing to a whopping 57 percent of that increase.

Child poisoning is preventable. MDC has purchased SentrySafe medicine lock boxes to help parents keep their medications locked away.

Supplies are limited. To request your FREE lock box, contact Sarah Harder or call 588-5550.


We’ve Joined the Blogosphere!

Testing… testing. 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on?

Our yet-to-be-named blog will feature weekly posts from the MDC staff. You can read about the latest abuse trends from Knoxville’s only primary substance abuse prevention organization, plus get tips on how to stay healthy and drug-free.

Check us out and let us know what you think. We hope you will engage with us as we begin this exciting new endeavor.

Have a suggestion for a blog topic? Contact Heather to weigh in. And don’t forget to share the blog with friends and coworkers. It’ll give you something to talk about over your morning coffee!

Labor Day celebrations call for safety precautions

fireworksIt’s that time of year again where family and friends get together for Labor Day weekend. As you are barbecuing and watching the Boomsday fireworks, remember that while alcohol is often prevalent, it can also be dangerous. When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel of a boat or a car, it endangers both their own lives and those around them.

Many East Tennesseans are ready to get their boating in at local lakes and rivers for one of the last official weekends of summer, but it is important to remember that drinking and driving is not just referring to those in an automobile. Driving a boat can be just as dangerous as operating a car when intoxicated.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, alcohol is one of the top two primary causes for fatal boating accidents in 2012. Not only can drunken boating accidents cause fatalities, but as a driver you can be charged with a BUI, or boating under the influence, ,a Class A misdemeanor. Even as a first time offender of a BUI you can be charged with up to $2,500 in fines and one year in jail.

As Labor Day is a great weekend for getting that last bit of boating in, it is also important to remember to be safe. Please designate a sober driver if there is alcohol involved and remember to put safety first. The river is going to be crowded this Boomsday, so keep your distance and stay sober if you are operating the boat.

While you are remembering to stay safe on the water don’t forget to stay safe on the roadways as well. Wear your seat belt, obey the speed limits and have a designated driver for your vehicle. The “No Refusal” law will be enforced in many counties meaning if a driver of a vehicle refuses a breathalyzer test, the officer can obtain a warrant on the spot in order to administer it. Please remember that there will be many DUI check points across the Knoxville area so stay sober and have a great Labor Day weekend.

Keep the roadways free from drugs and alcohol this holiday season

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. MDC urges driving safety this month and throughout the year.

Impaired driving is a 100 percent preventable crime that kills more than 1,000 people between Thanksgiving and New Year’s each year. When one thinks of impaired driving, drunk driving usually comes to mind. However, impaired driving includes any behavior that can hinder one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, which includes drunk, drugged and distracted driving.

Drugged driving in particular is becoming more prevalent today. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, an estimated one in three deadly crashes in which drug tests are conducted indicate drugs in the driver’s system. That number has increased about five percent in the past five years, with more than 1.4 million people driving while impaired every year.

“Drugs, including those prescribed by a physician, can impair judgment and motor skills,” President Obama said in a 2010 proclamation. “It is critical that we encourage our young people and fellow citizens to make responsible decisions when driving or riding as a passenger, especially if drug use is apparent.”

It’s not just adults who are driving under the influence, but teens as well. Ten percent of high school seniors self-report driving after using marijuana in the past two weeks, according to the most recent Monitoring the Future survey. For youth, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death, and drugs and alcohol only compound a teen’s crash risk.

This holiday season, the Metropolitan Drug Commission urges responsible decision making. Prevention is key in saving lives and increasing highway safety.

“We are committed to raising public awareness about the dangers of impaired driving,” Karen Pershing, executive director, said. “If someone you know has used alcohol or drugs, we urge you to intervene immediately, before they get behind the wheel. You could save their life and the lives of others.”

Before you head out on the roadway, remember to choose a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol. If you do not have a designated driver, call a sober friend, family member or a taxi to pick you up. Help impaired drivers arrange a safe way home. Take their keys if necessary, and do not allow them on the road.

For tips on how to stay safe, visit the Safe Party Planning tab or call (865) 588-5550.

MDC responds to Governor Haslam’s Public Safety Action Plan

By Charles W. Swanson
President, MDC Board of Directors
Law Director, City of Knoxville

On behalf of the Metropolitan Drug Commission’s board of directors, I would like to commend Governor Haslam on the newly-unveiled Public Safety Action Plan.

Prescription drug abuse is the one of the greatest threats to our nation’s well-being. It is an issue that is devastating our families, our friends and our community. Prescription drug abuse crosses all race, gender and socioeconomic boundaries, and it doesn’t discriminate based on age or education. Overdoses are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in America. If we hope to reverse this trend, we must make prescription drugs more difficult and less appealing to abuse. Governor Haslam’s plan is a giant leap forward in achieving this goal.

We are happy to see plans to strengthen the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Consistent utilization of the PMP will help make healthcare professionals more informed before prescribing or dispensing narcotics. By sharing information with law enforcement agencies, we can prevent “doctor shoppers” from flooding neighboring states.

In addition, we hope to see more prescription drug take-back program events across the state. Medication collections have proven extremely successful locally. Since 2008, 4,026 pounds of pills have been collected and destroyed in Knox County alone. That’s more than 2 million pills that will not end up in our water system or in the hands of abusers.

With the rise in prescription drug misuse, “drugged driving” has become more pervasive on our roadways. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, an estimated one in three deadly crashes in which drug tests are conducted indicate drugs in the driver’s system. That number has increased about five percent in the past five years, with more than 1.4 million people driving while impaired every year. As our legislators look at strengthening our DUI laws, we hope they will consider broadening the definition of impaired driving to include narcotics.

A 2003 report compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) noted that “about 70 percent of state and 57 percent of federal prisoners used drugs regularly prior to incarceration.” Of juvenile offenders, “56 percent of the boys and 40 percent of the girls tested positive for drug use at the time of their arrest.” Today, these numbers are likely much higher. Increasing access to addiction treatment and supporting drug courts can give these individuals a second chance to live healthy and productive lives.

We also are happy to see actionable steps to reduce the scourge of methamphetamine. Meth labs endanger hundreds of children each year. By reducing illegal access to pseudoephedrine, we will see a marked decrease in meth production throughout the state, providing a healthier, safer home environment for our children.

To make changes on a federal and state level, we must first make changes on a community level. We are glad to see commitment from our state legislators to work with local law enforcement and drug prevention agencies. These folks are “in the trenches” of substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery each and every day. Their input can help state legislators make more informed decisions and focus their efforts on real community issues. The Metropolitan Drug Commission fully supports the governor’s plan and looks forward to working with our state representatives and legislators going forward.


Join Mayor Tim Burchett in celebrating the 22nd annual National Recovery Month

Who: Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, the City of Knoxville and the Metropolitan Drug Commission

What: A joint resolution and press conference proclaiming the month of September as National Recovery Month

When: Tuesday, September 6 at 1:30 PM

Where: Child & Family Tennessee Great Starts, 3006 Lake Brook Boulevard, Knoxville

Background: In 2009, 4.3 million people aged 12 or older (1.7 percent of Americans) received treatment for substance use disorders, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

To commemorate this important awareness month, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will issue a proclamation jointly with the City of Knoxville on September 6 highlighting the benefits recovery has on our community. Burchett will focus on how residents can access the professional care they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. For those outside the recovery community, the event will stress the importance of helping a loved one in need and educate individuals on a variety of prevention, treatment and recovery options.

“Our hope is that with increased access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services, our community will reach out to those in need to assist them in finding appropriate treatment options,” Karen Pershing, executive director of the Metropolitan Drug Commission, said.

Upcoming Events: Helen Ross McNabb Center, in partnership with East Tennessee Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors, will host the 8th annual Recovery Awareness Fair on September 24 at West Town Mall from 10 AM-2 PM. Contact Melinda Kirk at 865-329-9023 for more information.

About: The observance of National Recovery Month raises awareness of substance use and mental  disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery and acknowledges the work of treatment and recovery service providers. Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is an  essential part of health and one’s overall wellness, and that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover from substance use and mental disorders. National Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additional information can be found at

Citizens’ GPS program helps students navigate twists and turns of local government

The Knoxville/Knox County Mayors’ Youth Action Council (YAC), in partnership with the Metropolitan Drug Commission and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, has developed a web-based program to encourage Knoxville youth to become engaged in local government.

The Citizens’ GPS program can help teens learn more about how local government operates and empower them to get involved.  Teens will learn to identify community problems through worksheets and problem-solving activities. Citizens’ GPS gives students an opportunity to work both independently and cooperatively.

“Many citizens today complain about the government and issues in the community but often don’t know how to make a change,” Missy Denton, a rising Hardin Valley High School senior, said. “We wanted to design a program that would teach teens like us how to get involved and be part of the problem-solving process.”

The website includes additional links for teachers to implement the curriculum in the classroom. Three fully developed lesson plans are currently available for download. The learning objectives addressed through Citizens’ GPS meet all local government requirements for the State of Tennessee and Knox County.

“Our teachers will benefit from this high quality, relevant community resource to support civic education in the Social Studies classroom,” Millicent Smith, Knox County Schools Social Studies supervisor, said. “We are very appreciative to the Youth Action Council for their enthusiasm and hard work on this worthwhile project.”

Citizens’ GPS is available free of charge to all teachers and students in Knox County. A link to the site will be available for teachers through the social studies teachers’ intranet. Students can access the materials at

For more information about YAC, click here.