Hope Line offers guidance for addiction
Seeking help for addiction can be daunting. The person with addiction, or concerned family and friends, may face hurdles in navigating an unfamiliar maze of options. They may have questions: Which agency has an opening? Where can I get in? What does my insurance cover?
A local behavioral health agency has started a new phone service, the Hope Line, that will be staffed by a treatment access navigator who is to stay in contact with callers until they are connected with the services they need.
OhioGuidestone’s Hope Line, 330-663-6812, will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday. Messages may be left at any time. The line can accept texts.
Access navigator Rachel Wentworth promises to reply to messages within 24 hours.
The new phone service grew from experiences of the nearly 10-year-old Tuscarawas County Opiate Addiction Task Force, according to Natalie Bollon, executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Tuscarawas and Carroll Counties.
“One of the things that we’ve heard consistently from the community is, ‘We don’t know where to start. We don’t know where to go,'” she said. “And we’ve battled with how do we impact that for years. One of the ways that we had historically approached that was information sharing. How do we get as much information out there as possible? Our treatment agencies, what addiction looks like, etcetera.”
Yet the questions persist.
“We’re still hearing it,” Bollon said.
Community members often reach out personally to ADAMHS Board Member Mary Ann Otte, knowing she lost her son Joseph to addiction in 2013. The Joe Otte Memorial Fund was established in his memory.
The HOPE Line is intended to help people, beginning with identification of addiction and going into treatment, Bollon said.
“It’s not just an information line,” she said. “It’s not, ‘Here’s a handful of phone numbers.’ Rachel is going to walk with that individual or that family from that phone call to hand off to a treatment provider.
“One of the things that’s important in substance abuse treatment is making sure the person is at the right level of care.
“When you have a broken bone, you don’t put a Band-Aid on it. If you put a Band-Aid on it, it’s never going to heal. You’ve got to have the right level of care, the right level of intervention to heal that level of wound.
“It’s the same thing with addiction,” Bollon said. “Going to outpatient counseling once a week when you have a deep, deep embedded addiction isn’t going to cure the addiction. It’s not that counseling doesn’t work. It’s not that the person isn’t willing to work. But that level of intervention doesn’t match the level of wound and need.”
Wentworth is charged with asking pointed questions to direct the person to the appropriate level of care, where they will get a more thorough assessment and be directed to the next steps.
The service is not only for people with addiction. Family members concerned about an addict can be directed to individual counseling or a support group.
“There’s a lot of enabling that goes on, a lot of codependency,” Bollon said. “It comes from a good place. It comes from a very loving place. But sometimes our families aid that addiction in ways that we don’t intend to.
“If the individual that’s addicted isn’t ready, I’m always connecting the family member to something that’s going to make it harder for them to allow that loved one’s addiction to continue.”
“I think a big thing for the family members is just being supportive of them and recognizing you’re not the individual with the addiction, but you’re also struggling here too, and we still need to support you too,” said Wentworth, a residential advocate at River Haven Women’s Residential Treatment in Dover.
She can connect families to support groups comprising others who are in the same situation.
“Sometimes they just need someone to talk to,” Wentworth said. “And so I’ll be that person on the other end of the line who will sit there and listen as long as they need to share. That’s one thing that’s unique about this line. We have that warmth and that personal connection that so many people are looking for. That’s what hasn’t been available in this county for a while.”
She plans to listen nonjudgmentally to addicts who call for help.
“It’s going to be just a matter of meeting them where they’re at, and not faulting them or blaming them for whatever state they’re calling in because that is just a product of the disease that they are actively searching for help from,” she said.
Bollon said the Hope Line will provide more active involvement with callers than other phone-based referral services.
“Rachel will initiate a call back to check on you. Rachel will initiate a call to an agency to see where you can get in first. Rachel can look at your benefits, and see from the benefits that you have, is there any residential treatment facility that could accept you,” Bollon said. “She’s going to tackle a lot of the barriers that the individuals who aren’t familiar with the system spend hours working through to get a loved one care.”
The HOPE Line is funded by a $46,610 State Opioid Response grant, according to Pamela Trimmer, executive director of OhioGuidestone. The funding is expected to support the service through Sept. 30.
Another resource is the National Drug Helpline at 1-844-289-0879. The free, confidential service is available at all times.
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR