Collaboratively promote data-driven awareness, knowledge-based action and purposeful advocacy to reduce the harmful impact of alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction on youth, families and the community.
Charlotte Mecklenburg is an active, vibrant, diverse community that promotes collective and individual responsibility for wellness and fosters safe, healthy and substance abuse free lifestyle for children and adults.
Since 2001 Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition (CMDFC) has served as a community coalition to reduce substance use, particularly among youth throughout Mecklenburg County. Initially, a small group of concerned citizens gathered to discuss the emerging alcohol and drug use concerns they were seeing in the County. After comparing our youth reported substance use statistics obtained via the biannual Youth Drug Survey (YDS), community members were startled to realize that our community was reporting substance use patterns well above State and national averages. With this in mind, representatives from the group begin an assessment and planning process and formed the Mecklenburg County Healthy Carolinians Substance Abuse (MCHCSA) Task Force. From their initial needs assessment and advocacy efforts, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners began to recognize substance abuse as a major public health concern, adopting a policy goal that by 2015 Mecklenburg be able to report the “lowest per capita incidence of substance abuse in the nation.”
Realizing that a unified, strategic, and community-driven organization was the only way to ensure a sustainable and long-lasting impact in solving the growing substance abuse problem in Mecklenburg, the group joined forces with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Vice and Narcotics Division and transitioned from the MCHCSA Task Force into the Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition (CMDFC).
CMDFC adopted a mission of “collaboratively promoting data-driven awareness, knowledge-based action and purposeful advocacy to reduce the harmful impact of alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction on youth, families and the community”. We began implementing strategies to raise awareness of youth substance abuse, and established the coalition as a known community clearinghouse of resources for our parents, youth, schools and community partners.
By 2008, the coalition was making significant advances in Mecklenburg County and being recognized nationally for our efforts. We began assisting with the administration of Center for Prevention Services’ Youth Drug Survey (YDS) across the County, ensuring that we could collect regular and trustworthy data for driving decision-making every other year. We began implementing the Alcohol Purchase Survey (a retailer compliance strategy) in 2008 in collaboration with law enforcement, and by 2010 saw a 50% reduction in non-compliance.
CMDFC has grown into an organization with more than 50 businesses, agencies, and individuals representing all twelve sectors. We have made great strides at ensuring the community knows our “value”, and ensure continued support from our wide-reaching community partners. With many changes and more challenges in youth drug prevention over the past years, the success of our coalition has opened the door for many other coalitions to begin doing more intricate-focused work on specific communities in Charlotte.
As we look towards the future, CMDFC is taking a collective approach to substance use, bringing prevention, treatment and recovery perspectives to the table to create systemic change in substance use on a broader level. We have launched a countywide Opiate/Heroin Taskforce to address the significant rise in heroin use and overdose in Mecklenburg County. Within youth prevention, SPIDA is launching an innovative pilot prevention strategy that incorporates media, real-life experiences and peer-to-peer facilitation in order to prevent use.
As we seek to expand our reach Countywide, we are excited to join with partners across the communities, the County and the state of North Carolina to prevent substance use and support the treatment and recovery of those struggling every day.