Coalitions in Action: MATFORCE Encourages Community to Stand and Be Drug Free

In Yavapai County, Arizona, MATFORCE coalition implemented the Stand with Me, Be Drug Free® campaign, engaging 50,000 community members.

“The campaign was developed to celebrate the fact that a majority of people do not abuse drugs and alcohol,” said Merilee Fowler, Executive Director at MATFORCE. “The campaign included town, city and county governments reading a ‘Stand with Me, Be Drug Free’ proclamation.”

In addition, “Stand with Me, Be Drug Free” posters were displayed in hundreds of windows and banners hung across main streets. Three “Walk with Me, Be Drug Free” events were held. Television and radio commercials were produced, promoting the “drug free” message and social media messaging reached over 30,000 impressions.

“MATFORCE started in 2006 to address the methamphetamine problem in our county,” said Fowler. “In 2007, we expanded our focus to address all legal and illegal substances that are being abused. Currently, MATFORCE has 15 committees with 289 active community members.”

MATFORCE provides substance abuse education for kindergarten through 12th grade students to any school in Yavapai County, free of charge. This past school year, MATFORCE implemented research-based substance abuse curriculums to 11,884 students in classroom settings. The coalition introduced nine different curriculums, including: 

  • Botvin Life Skills®
  • Keep a Clear Mind®
  • Not Prescribed®
  • Stand with Me, Be Drug Free®

Yavapai County is located in central Arizona, a large county with 8,000 square miles. A mainly rural county, it has a population of 215,000, nine incorporated communities and over 20 unincorporated communities. Within the county, there are two Indian tribes: Yavapai Apache Nation and the Prescott Yavapai Indian Tribe. The coalition has helped facilitate significant reductions in youth use of alcohol and prescription drugs. According to the Arizona Youth Survey, youth use of alcohol has decreased over 40 percent and youth use of prescription drugs has reduced over 50 percent in the last eight years.

“To be successful in coalition work, you need to give people a purpose and be productive with their time,” Fowler advises other coalitions. “People don’t want to meet to meet, they want to meet to determine strategies and to implement those strategies. Our coalition continues to determine new ways to meet our vision of “working together to reduce substance abuse.” We also take time to celebrate successes and to appreciate the great work of our volunteers.”

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