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The Montana Meth Project unleashes hope in Missoula

Running a nonprofit organization dedicated to meth prevention comes with its own set of challenges, from reducing challenging health issues and creating a network of emotional support to breaking stigmas and raising awareness. Meet Montana Meth Project executive director Amy Rue, who sat down with us to share the difficult and rewarding elements of running her job.

Amy Rue - Montana Meth Project executive director

My name is Amy Rue, and I am the executive director of the Montana Meth Project located in Missoula, Montana. The Montana Meth Project was founded in 2005 by businessman and philanthropist Tom Siebel as a private-sector response to Montana’s critical public health issue. Our nonprofit is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing first-time teen Meth use through educational and in-person outreach.

We are the only organization in our state solely dedicated to meth prevention and have been recognized nationally for our research-driven outreach sharing the hard-hitting truths and real-life experiences of meth addiction. Since our founding, first-time teen meth use in Montana has been reduced by 77% (Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey using CDC data).

 

Who helped you on your business journey and how?

In the early 2000s, Tom Siebel saw the effects of meth addiction straining Montana’s law enforcement, employers, foster care, public health agencies, and criminal justice system. Disturbed by the grip of this intensely addictive drug, Tom realized that this public health crisis needed a dramatic response. He gathered business and political leaders and added his own time, talent, and money. In 2005, the nonprofit Montana Meth Project was born.

Since its founding, the Meth Project has been cited by the White House as one of the most effective programs and a model for the nation, in addition to being named the 3rd most effective philanthropy in the world by Barron’s in its global ranking.

Today, meth continues to have a hold on many Montana communities. The days of locally produced meth in homemade labs are greatly reduced, yet the supply has never been more abundant. The cartels inundate our state with the lowest-cost, highest-purity, and most addictive meth ever seen. Montana Attorney General Knudsen reports that today, it is easier for teens in Montana to get an ounce of meth than a six-pack of beer–and the impacts on individual lives and our society are dire.

“Since its founding, the Meth Project has been cited by the White House as one of the most effective programs and a model for the nation.”

Our programs remain vital to preventing first-time teen meth use. Through our prevention work, we also aim to reach a growing number of adults who are increasingly using the drug.

 

Montana Meth Project - Paint the State billboard

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day includes monitoring and responding to requests from students and other individuals who have commented or have questions about meth-related content on our websites and social networks. We frequently take in submissions, original artwork, personal testimonials and reshare these stories with our vast online audience. It’s always a pleasure to speak to people in recovery who are willing to share their personal experiences with others who may be contemplating a sober life for themselves, or are just beginning their journey away from addiction.

Who are your inspirations business-wise? Why?

We continue to be immensely grateful to the foundations, corporations, individuals, and families that have supported the Montana Meth Project for the last 17 years. They have allowed us to expand our reach and work with partners in education, providing direct teacher support and educational materials to drug courts and resource and treatment centers that provide on the ground support to those in recovery. We continue to be moved by the stories of addiction that are shared first-hand by real Montanans, and hope to continue to elevate and share their voices.

 

Montana Meth Project - Paint the State launch

Where do you see yourself in five years? What is your ultimate dream?

“We wish to expand these resources and other programs so that more youth can learn about the devastating effects of meth and peer-advocacy tools to avoid all drugs.”

We wish to amplify accessibility of our resources to youth across the nation. Currently, our Meth Prevention Lesson and the interactive learning modules on our dedicated MethProject.org website organically reach youth in all states. We wish to expand these resources and other programs so that more youth can learn about the devastating effects of meth and peer-advocacy tools to avoid all drugs.

What advice would you give to your past self before opening your own business?

Especially as a nonprofit, it’s critical to have a concise mission. It’s also vital that we implement a clear strategy so we can measure and analyze concrete results.

In addition to having varied funding sources and passionate supporters who believe in our work, volunteers can help advance our initiatives through their networks, friend groups and professional associates. Numerous times throughout the evolution of the Meth Project, we have found ourselves welcomed into communities, tribal nations, treatment centers, and even correctional facilities because of advocates who have paved the way for us. Cultivating and maintaining these long-standing partnerships has been a key to our success and broad, even nationwide, appeal.

 

Amy Rue is the executive director of Montana Meth Project.

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