The numbers are in, and in the past year (July 2014 to June 2015), use of the Helpline has increased significantly. This reflects the impact of the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as increased efforts to promote and enhance the Helpline as a critical source of substance abuse treatment information.
In FY 2015, the Helpline received a total of 20,985 calls, an increase of 21% from FY2014. That’s an average of 57 calls a day from people around the state seeking treatment services for themselves or a loved one. Even more people are using the Helpline website to search for services and other support, totaling nearly 142,000 web visits over the course of the year. This is an increase of 33% over the previous year, and an 80% increase over two years ago.
Opioids are the substance most abused, with nearly half of Helpline callers citing heroin or prescription opioids as the primary drug of abuse. Almost half of callers are seeking immediate detox treatment.
To respond to this higher demand, the Helpline has increased the number of Information & Referral Specialists on staff to take calls and make referrals. We are also providing callers with even more comprehensive services, tailoring referrals to address their specific needs, helping them address insurance questions, and making it easier to call us back if they need to and start where they left off. We’re also getting feedback from callers and website visitors so that we can continue to improve our services.
Social service agencies and their providers are the largest source of referrals to the Helpline. They are critical partners in our collective efforts to help people struggling with substance abuse across the Commonwealth. In addition to encouraging clients to call 800.327.5050 or go to helpline-online.com, health and social service providers can order Helpline wallet cards to share with patients and clients. Go to maclearinghouse.com to place an order.