Metro Drug Coalition

Metro Drug Coalition (MDC) is a nonprofit organization striving to create a healthy and safe community, free of substance misuse. We have served the Knoxville community for over 38 years. Our goal is to increase access to evidence-based prevention education, harm reduction programs and recovery support services for anyone desiring to maintain or seek a life free from substance misuse. Through community collaborative efforts, we can all strengthen families and prevent future generations from the devastating consequences of addiction.


Our Mission

Improve the health of the greater Knoxville community by reducing the use/misuse of alcohol and other substances through prevention, harm reduction, and recovery support.


Our Vision

A healthy and safe community, free of substance misuse.

We Value…


We strive to be the leading influence on substance misuse issues by identifying solutions and providing direction to the community.


We promise to adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards in every aspect of substance abuse prevention.


We seek to mobilize and engage all sectors of the community to work together on preventing substance abuse MDC is impacting our community through:

  • MDC Grass Roots Anti-Drug Coalition

  • Substance Misuse Task Force

  • Lifeline Project increasing recovery support availability

  • Drug-Free Workplace Training Program

  • MDC Recovery Housing Support Fund

  • Knox County Schools substance misuse prevention education

  • Youth Metro Drug Coalition

  • Mental Health First Aid Trainings

  • Faith-based Initiatives

  • Variety of other prevention initiatives

  • Born Drug-Free Tennessee Campaign

  • Naloxone Training and Distribution

  • SBIRT (Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment) Training for medical providers

  • Recovery Coaching

History of the Organization

  • 1986
  • 1986
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1992
  • 1992-1995
  • 1997
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2006
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2016
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • MDC is Born

    Scott Dean, a prominent business man whose family was touched by substance abuse, founded Metropolitan Drug Commission in early 1986. The organization was co-sponsored by the city, county and Chamber of Commerce.

  • Becoming a Non-Profit

    Community Leaders receive non-profit charter on June 20, 1986 as Metropolitan Drug Commission. They were charged to establish an alcohol and other drug umbrella organization for Knoxville/Knox County.

  • Finding the Right People

    Jill Griffin, from the staff at Peninsula Treatment Center, was hired as the first executive director on October 15, 1989.

  • Community Outreach

    MDC receives five year grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Department of HHS to survey the community, determine needs and provide a community forum to develop a plan of action to reduce substance abuse problems in the community.

  • Out on Our Own

    The CSAP grant was transferred to MDC so issues could be addressed from a broad community base, distinct from any one political entity.

  • Building an Army

    From October 1990 – December 1995, grant funding provided MDC with a staff of up to nine people, including a full-time executive director.

  • Transitioning Leaders

    Jill Griffin’s departs from MDC, and Robert Vint becomes the new Executive Director.

  • Continuing the Climb

    Catherine Thatcher Brunson became the third Executive Director for MDC.

  • New Hope

    MDC was one of 11 sites nationwide selected for the Demand Treatment grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • MDC Receives DFC Funding

    MDC receives DrugFree Communities support grant, which is a federal grant that establishes and strengthens communities and aims to reduce substance abuse among youth and adults. This allowed MDC to expand community outreach to provide resources at no cost.

  • Drug Monitoring Programs

    In 2003, MDC sent key state officials to a training about Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. As a direct result, Tennessee received over $400,000 in funding to develop a computerized prescription monitoring system to support doctors, pharmacists, regulators and law enforcement, saving millions for taxpayers.

  • Youth Initiatives

    In 2004 and 2005 MDC’s innovative “Drama Camp” offered a week of intensive theatrical study with life skills training to 25 at-risk youth, ages 14-17, at no cost to their families.

  • 20 Year Celebration

    In April of 2006, MDC celebrated 20 years of strengthening Knoxville/Knox County with a special event. The keynote speaker was the nation’s Drug Czar, John P. Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

  • A New Home

    In September of 2009, MDC offices relocated to the Historic Lyons View School on Lyons View Pike. The building has a unique history, and the City and County were gracious in their support and contributions towards making the move a reality.

  • Making a Switch

    In early 2010, Catherine Thatcher Brunson resigned as the Executive Director. The Board of Directors, hired Karen Pershing as its fourth Executive Director.

  • Creation of Task Force

    MDC formed a prescription drug task force comprised of medical and law enforcement leaders along with Rep. Bill Dunn, Tennessee Department of Health and the TBI to collectively work on the issue of prescription drug abuse. As a result two bills were passed (ID and Naloxone) in the first year and educational efforts showed a decline of 25 percent in prescribing of narcotics in Knox County.

  • Youth Leaders

    Following eight years of success, Youth Action Council transitioned to Leadership Knoxville and became Youth Leadership Knoxville. MDC transitioned to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

  • Pain Clinic Regulations

    Through legislative advocacy, MDC and the prescription drug task force led an effort to support a bill to strengthen pain clinic regulations in 2015.

  • Unheard Voices

    In February, 2015, the Born Drug Free Tennessee education and awareness campaign was launched to reduce babies being born drug exposed and suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

  • A New Brand

    In 2016, MDC celebrated their 30th anniversary with a special event and an announcement of their rebranding efforts. The Metropolitain Drug Commission became the Metro Drug Coalition.

  • Empowering Youth

    Youth Metro Drug Coalition launched in Knox County High Schools. Members of YMDC have a personal connection to addiction or a passion for substance abuse prevention.

  • Mental Health First Aid

    MDC received a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues.

  • Recovery Coaching

    Became first agency in Tennessee to offer national certification in recovery coaching

  • Launching the Gateway

    In October of 2019, MDC launched The Gateway Recovery Community Center initiative.

  • New Home

    In December of 2019, with the help of philanthropist and the City of Knoxville, MDC purchased the building for The Gateway.

  • Building Communities of Recovery Grant

    MDC was the first organization in the state to receive the Building Communities of Recovery grant, which is a highly competitive three-year grant through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supporting the expansion of comprehensive recovery services in the Knoxville region.