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home : opinions : commentary May 24, 2016

7/19/2014 2:08:00 PM
Commentary: County "em down - MATFORCE Top 10 accomplishments of the past year

By Sheila Polk and Doug Bartosh
Our Turn

No single person, no single agency can accomplish what a community working together can achieve. By working together, we help create healthy environments, free from the devastating harms of drug abuse and addiction. MATFORCE welcomes and thanks all the voices and all the people who have come to the table to help.

MATFORCE's Top 10 accomplishments of the past year include:

1) MATFORCE implemented the Yavapai County pilot test site for the Governor's Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Initiative, including:

• Ten drop boxes were installed for the public to drop off unwanted and expired medications.

• Dump the Drugs events properly collected and disposed of a record 12,931 pounds of unwanted medications.

• MATFORCE promoted a "Sign up to Save Lives Campaign" increasing enrollment in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) from 14 percent to 40 percent.

• On April 23, Governor Brewer signed Senate Bill 1124 allowing physicians and pharmacists to designate their assistants to have access to the PDMP.

• Area hospitals adopted policies to limit the opioids being dispensed from Emergency Departments.

• A prescription drug abuse educational program was successfully taught to over 6,000 students in Yavapai County.

• Law enforcement expanded investigation of prescription drug fraud and diversions.

• Thanks in part to MATFORCE's work around both prescription drug abuse and synthetic drugs, police calls to hospital Emergency Departments decreased by 25 percent between 2011 to 2013.

2) MATFORCE increased drug prevention programs in schools. This past school year, over 8,000 students, in Yavapai County schools received substance abuse education through MATFORCE educators and volunteers.

3)MATFORCE launched an initiative to address the increase in marijuana drug use by our youth called Marijuana Harmless? Think again!

4) MATFORCE provided parenting education to over 2,000 parents through classes, workshops, Drug Recognition Trainings, Victim Impact Panels and the MATFORCE Valuable Parent Program.

5) The MATFORCE volunteer Speakers Bureau continues to go strong. On an annual basis, over 200 presentations on the risks of substance abuse are presented to over 10,000 local participants.

6) As federal funding for age-appropriate anti-substance abuse messaging has dried up, MATFORCE has stepped up to the plate, reaching over 100,000 youth and adults in Yavapai County through Teen Maze, Red Ribbon Week Activities, school assemblies, youth contests, posters, rack card displays, TV commercials, radio commercials, our three websites, our Facebook page, and now, MATFORCE even has a Twitter account.

7) The MATFORCE Underage Drinking Task Force has successfully conducted Covert Underage Drinking Buys, Vendor Education, Victim Impact Panels and the Beer Run Theft Reward Program to reduce underage drinking.

8) The MATFORCE Intervention Workgroup provided multiple trainings for professionals including: Motivational Interviewing; Peer 2 Peer Recovery Coaching; and Trauma Informed Care, reaching over 200 professionals in our county.

9) MATFORCE supported the Prescott Recovery Celebration and helped to implement the Recovery Celebration in Cottonwood.

10) And finally, MATFORCE's 10th major accomplishment is its statewide leadership in helping eliminate the scourge of synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and spice. In Yavapai County, MATFORCE helped make the sale of such drugs illegal.

Since MATFORCE was first founded in 2006, our prevention projects have helped saved hundreds of lives. All the community members who help and support the MATFORCE projects can be proud of what they have done to improve the health and safety of our community. On behalf of the MATFORCE Board of Directors, we cannot thank everyone enough for making Yavapai County a great place.

Sheila Polk and Doug Bartosh are the co-chairs of Yavapai County MATFORCE

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014
Article comment by: You forgot Number

Suckered the new superintendent of Mingus High School to publish a Reefer Madness article in the VI, alienating most parents.

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014
Article comment by: It seems to me:

MATFORCE could use some research to determine how much the Medicare prescription drug benefit has increased both the quantity of drugs they need to dispose of safely and the abuse of prescription drugs.

It could also use better research to correct its current anti-marijuana message. The potential for serious consequences related to underage marijuana use is real, but MATFORCE will continue to fail in this area as long as a large percentage of students know at least half of the spiel isn't true. And that affects the credibility of everything MATFORCE has to say about more dangerous drugs.

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: Shall we include assisting in preventing any actual scientific study from taking place?

By working with Kimberly Yee to prevent meaningful triple blind study for helping our Veterans?

And instead trying to use the funds for a prohibition propaganda campaign that was designed per the county attorneys own words to make the county and state a "hard target" for citizen led ballot initiatives?

If impeding the democratic process is a great accomplishment then that makes no sense.

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Article comment by: gary chamberlain


The MATFORCE story only goes to prove that it will take a lot of folks working together to reverse the social issues that cause us to spend time trying to create a safe and wholesome place to live.

The forensics of the 100 bags of litter processed by the community of Lower Oak Creek Estates is an example of the social issues that cripple our image and economy:

1 Plastic bucket,
1 Household cleaner bucket,
21 One gallon water bottles,
1 Plastic milk container,
378 Seventeen once water bottles,
2 Plastic vitamin bottles,
146 Sport drinks bottles,
3 Orange drink bottles,
2 One gallon milk bottles,
1 Soap dish,
21 Small plastic milk containers,
1 Plastic cooking oil bottle,
47 Plastic soda bottles,
1 One gallon iced tea bottle,
3 Motor oil containers,
1 Plastic storage bowl,
13 Plastic juice bottle,
97 Plastic cups,
1 Plastic mustard bottle,
1 Plastic peanut butter jar,
27 Coffee cups,
14 Cough syrup bottles,
1 Mayonnaise jar,
1 One gallon laundry bottle,
17 Miscellaneous car debris parts,
116 Plastic mini-shot alcohol bottles,
5 Ice cooler lids,
4 Pint alcohol bottles,
12 Five gallon plastic lids,
5 Muriatic acid containers,
340 Twelve once soda cans,
558 Beer cans,
32 Small Iced tea bottles,
21 Juice cans,
46 Miscellaneous alcohol bottles,
15 Metal cans
1 “Old” oil can

1957 Total Items but who’s counting?

Be thankful we have Adopt-A-Highway groups that are making a difference. These items accumulated in three month time on Highway 89A between Cottonwood and Sedona.

Gary Chamberlain FVUSA
"America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs"
Cornville AZ

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Carl Nye

How do you properly collect and dispose of over SIX TONS of unwanted and expired medications? This would calculate to every person in the county contributing nearly an ounce of pills to the collection. Every person. I'm skeptical.

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Important Work

Thank you for sharing this information, and thank you for this important work.

Unfortunately the name Sheila Polk is too often associated with what many people consider to be a misguided "Reefer Madness" war on cannabis. But as this article makes clear, there is much more to this effort.

The real problem is not with cannabis Ms. Polk, but with the truly addicting and harmful substances like heroin and meth.

Legitimate substance abuse is a big problem not just here but around the country. It wrecks too many lives. We will continue to need effective solutions to substance abuse besides just the "war on drugs" that has proven to be by itself ineffective.

Supporting recovery efforts, continued education especially for youth, mental health resources, other forms of behavioral help including job opportunities for recovering addicts, and reintegrating recovering addicts back into society is important going forward.

We can't just wage a "war on drugs" and leave it at that. We can't think the solution is to just bust people and put them in prison. That does not solve the problem and is not in the best interest of the taxpayer, the justice system, or the addict.

The problem is far more complex, and so must be the solution.

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