Addiction hotline sees more calls for help amid opioid crisis

Tennessee REDLINE averages 50 calls per-day
Posted at 1:16 PM, Sep 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 09:59:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee REDLINE is a 24/7 phone number that offers addiction information and treatment referrals to people who are battling all sorts of addiction. It is always expected that more calls come in during holiday weekends because of loved ones.

Experts say an influencing factor is that family interactions and events tend to point out someone's problem.

Mary Linden Salter, of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Substance Services, which operates the Tennessee REDLINE, says the number of calls is already going up over the years. Overall, there are more calls partly because for the first time this year, people can text to the Tennessee REDLINE.

"I think a lot more people are comfortable just because of the privacy of being able to text to get referral information," Salter told NewsChannel 5.

There is now an average of 15,000 calls every year, at least 1,200 per month. To break it down further, the center receives about 50 calls a day, according to Salter.

Majority of the people who answer the calls are in recovery themselves.

Salter said another reason why the number is getting more attention is its ability to connect callers to providers, what is otherwise known as a warm handoff.

"If they call and they want access to a provider right away, we can actually connect them to a list of providers who have agreed to take those calls and talk them through the process," Salter added.

The increase in calls come amid the opioid-related deaths plaguing Tennessee. Recent state data showed opiates made up about nearly three-fourths of deadly overdoses in 2017.

It was a reality families and friends showcased as part of the International Overdose Awareness Day rally in Nashville over the weekend where TAADAS was a sponsor.

Referral sources are not just limited to TAADAS member agencies, state funded programs, or to any specific area of the state. Any program provider can apply with the Tennessee REDLINE to be included in their referral database.

To call the REDLINE, dial 1-800-889-9789.