According to the latest Illinois Youth Survey, alcohol and drug use among high school seniors who live in Massac County has gone up since 2018.
In 2018, 28% of participants reported using alcohol in the last 30 days. By 2020, that number was 36%. Those reporting marijuana use in the last 30 days was 15% in 2018 and two years later that number was 29%.
It’s those kinds of statistics that tell members of the Massac County Drug Awareness Coalition (MCDAC) there’s still work to be done.
MCDAC held its annual meeting on Aug. 18 with members meeting in person at Metropolis City Hall and through Zoom.
Executive director Holly Windhorst presided over the meeting, updating members on the events and programs MCDAC was able to accomplish in its 2020-21 fiscal year, despite the restrictions of COVID-19. Those include:
• Teaming with the Love Thy Neighbor ministry on Aug. 29, 2020, to provide a fun morning for youth in Joppa.
• Collaborating with Weekend Blessings, from November 2020 through May 2021, and with COPE Food Pantry, since February, to provide a drug prevention flyer monthly in food bags.
• Providing Rides to Recovery to facilities for those seeking treatment for their addictions.
• Participating in the “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign through social media and a billboard that was posted on U.S. Hwy. 45 from February through July.
• Participating in National Recovery Month in September 2020 by posting recovery stories and photos on Facebook and receiving a proclamation by the City of Metropolis declaring Aug. 31 as National Overdose Day.
• Presenting updates to civic groups in September and October 2020.
• Marking Red Ribbon Week, which was Oct. 26-30, 2020, in the Joppa-Maple Grove and Massac Unit 1 school districts by providing teacher kits to all kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers and placing vaping prevention banners in the schools for seventh-graders and up.
• Making drug disposal bags available to the community since January. The Deterra Drug Deactivation bags are still available at the MCDAC office, Metropolis Police Department, Massac County Sheriff’s Department, Massac County Mental Health, Massac Memorial Hospital/Clinics, Metropolis Drugs I, Metropolis Drugs II and Southern Seven Health Department. The bags are a way residents can dispose of unused prescription drugs at home.
• Debuting its new website — www.massacdrugawareness.com — in March.
• Using its Youth Advisory Council Instagram account to target teens with facts and statistics during National Alcohol & Drugs Facts Week, March 22-26.
• Joining with other community organizations to raise awareness during Child Abuse Prevision Month in April.
• Joining with participating partners who shared on Facebook and Instagram daily how they’re preventing youth substance abuse and suicide in Massac County during National Prevention Week, which was May 10-14.
• Purchasing door prizes for Project Graduation at Massac County High School on May 14.
• Teaming with the Shawnee Community College TRIO program in May to provide prevention videos for youth in the TRIO program.
• And, participating in the June 17 block party hosted by Home Unlimited and the Massac County Housing Authority; the July 27 Metropolis Public Library Summer Reading Bash; and the July 30 through Aug. 1 Superman Celebration.
Windhorst also reported on MCDAC’s Youth Advisory Council at MCHS, which began meeting in February after an almost yearlong hiatus due to COVID. The council met monthly through the end of school and accomplished a few projects, including:
• Sharing vaping, alcohol and drug facts on the high school’s sidewalks in March.
• And, providing input on a social norms ad for the MCHS athletic fields, which have been installed for the 2021-22 school year.
Windhorst and MCDAC project coordinator Stacie Aycock also completed several training sessions over the past year, including the National Coalition Academy, the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America Forum and the Illinois Cannabis Forum.
Business during the annual meeting included:
• Windhorst announcing the retirement of three executive committee members — Rickey Griffey, Natalie Quint and Cindy Davis. Griffey was replaced by Jim Corry in April. Two nominees — Toni Miller and Mary Smith — were approved for the remaining positions. “We thank all of them (Griffey, Quint and Davis) for their involvement in MCDAC almost since its beginning. They have contributed so much of their time with the coalition. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done. They’ve been really dedicated to MCDAC,” Windhorst said. Corry, Miller and Smith will serve three-year terms.
• And, approval of by-law revisions.
The meeting also provided a chance to look over MCDAC’s goals for the 2021-22 year, which include:
• Implementing the “Too Good for Drugs” program in the JMG and Unit 1 school districts.
• Providing training to the Youth Advisory Council and expanding it and its projects.
• Providing in-service training to teachers on various topics.
• Growing and continuing community collaborations and established programs.
• Establishing a committee to develop a strategy for dealing with the county’s meth problem.
• And, establishing Narcotics Anonymous chapter in Massac County. Aycock said she is coordinating with the Metropolis Public Library to hold meetings there as some involved with Alcoholics Anonymous have expressed a desire for a group focused on drug addiction recovery Aycock is working with other groups find a meeting facilitator “This is about helping people establish a firm foundation in recovery. For people who struggled in the past with drug and alcohol addiction, recovery is a real thing. It’s not only about restoring their lives, but also the lives of their families and helping our community,” Aycock said. For more information or to volunteer, contact Aycock at 618-316-4472 or Rosemary Baxter at 524-4312.
MCDAC was formed in 2012 by founder Natalie Quint and a group of volunteers in response to a growing concern about methamphetamine and other substance use and their effects on the community.
MCDAC brings together members from all sectors of the community, including youth, to work to reduce substance abuse by providing leadership, education and resources to build and sustain communities of knowledgeable citizens who make healthy and safe choices through the reduction of substance abuse.
The organization receives a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and community donations to fund its prevention efforts. The Drug-Free Communities grant was received in December 2019, awarded $125,000 per year over a five-year period. Matching funds, through monetary or in-kind donations, are required for the grant. Due to COVID, MCDAC held two golf scrambles during its fiscal year, on Oct. 9, 2020, and May 28, 2021. Windhorst reported a record turnout for both events.
MCDAC relies on volunteers to accomplish its mission. To become involved, to make a donation or for more information, visit the website, www.massacdrugawareness.com, or contact Windhorst at 618-316-4472 or email@example.com. MCDAC is located at 506 Market St., Metropolis
MCDAC meets the third Wednesday of every month at 8 a.m. in the Metropolis City Hall council chambers and also via Zoom. Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 15.