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Illinois Opioid Addiction Helpline Sees Influx Of Calls After Launch

"Telephone" by Flickr User Sh4rp_i / (CC X 2.0)

More than 1,000 calls have come in to Illinois’ new helpline for opioid addiction and substance abuse.

Credit "Telephone" by Flickr User Sh4rp_i / (CC X 2.0)

Officials say they expected the influx of calls. The 24/7 helpline, run by Boston-based company Health Resources in Action, launched in December. It's part of efforts to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.

Maria Bruni is with the Illinois Department of Human Services. She says it’s important to have help available outside of regular business hours, and says operators try to direct callers to facilities with immediate openings.Listen to the radio story

“So, no matter what time of the day it is – if it’s in the middle of the night, if it’s a Saturday morning – so whenever people are ready to pick up that phone," she said. "Being able to pick up the phone is a really important first step on that road to recovery.”

Bruni says helpline operators coordinate resources to callers based on needs -- like finding sober living homes. But she says others are just looking for extra information.

“They might not be ready to actually show up at a treatment program, but they kind of want to know, ‘What would it be like if I did? What would treatment be like if I went there?’”

Bruni says the state’s working on a live chat as another option for addiction help. She says her department wants to eventually roll out a mobile app with similar services.

Copyright 2021 WNIJ Northern Public Radio. To see more, visit WNIJ Northern Public Radio.

Jessie Schlacks