24/7 helpline to help those struggling with addiction find treatment

Call center will launch in April for residents across Orange County


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  • Photo by Erika Norton One of the main initiatives of Orange County's strategic partnership with healthcare partners to address opioid addiction is a new 24/7 hotline, according to Orange County Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Darcie Miller, who spoke at a seminar on Jan. 18.





Overdoses up, treatment down

Between April 1, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2019, there were 436 opioid overdoses in Orange County, with 83 fatalities.
During that same time, 128 people were administered naloxone, the medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, although this number does not include administrations by loved ones at home.
At the same time the number of opioid-related deaths in the county is going up, the number of county residents admitted to treatment is going down.


BY ERIKA NORTON

Starting in April, Orange County will roll out a newly revamped mental health helpline, which will provide people suffering from substance abuse disorder or other mental health challenges a single number to turn to for assistance with gaining access to treatment and beginning their road to recovery.

The 24/7 hotline — 1-800-832-1200 — is one of the main initiatives of the county’s strategic partnership with health care partners to address prescription drug and heroin addiction, which was formed last year.

“Throughout trying to figure out how we get people immediate access to care, looking at our staff, we said, ‘how do people gain access?’” Orange County Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Darcie Miller said Jan. 18 during a seminar. “If it’s EMS out in the field, if it’s somebody whose walked into a police department, if it’s somebody at a school, how do we ensure that they have this whole system of care at their fingertips so that we don’t have to hear ‘there’s no services’ or ‘well, you can’t access services.’ How do we fill that gap? And we said, ‘we build a call center.’ We change our crisis response in Orange County.”

The hotlineThe single, dedicated behavioral health crisis hotline will be operated by the Mental Health Association in Orange County and will provide callers with immediate access to substance abuse disorder screening and LOCADTR, the state’s web-based tool used to determine the most appropriate level of care for a client with substance use disorder.

The call center is co-locating and coordinating with the Emergency Services/911 call center, allowing for a 24/7 collaborative response to calls. Dispatchers will be able to send the Orange County Mobile Response Team, operated by Access Support for Living, Inc., and connect callers to treatment services.

Dispatchers will have access to inpatient treatment center bed availabilities and a list of outpatient providers and their next available appointment.

Call center operators will also be able to do a “warm handoff” to dedicated peer services operated by Independent Living, Inc. and the Peer Services System. There will be a built in follow-up with all callers, ensuring every caller receives the help they need.

“They will stay with that person until they are connected to treatment,” Miller said. “They will continue to follow up. We won’t stop until we’re able to support somebody getting help.”

Leading up to the launch in April, the goal is to get the word out about the hotline, with a logo, posters, cards, social media, radio ads and a website. Miller also said they hope to eventually make the hotline a three-digit number.

Text4Teens — the free confidential text line that provides information, referrals and support on topics ranging from bullying, self-harm, drugs and alcohol, sexual assault and eating disorders — will also be expanded with the call center. The line, (845) 391-1000, will now be offered 24/7 starting in early 2019.

“There’s no other illness that we leave families feeling the shame and heartache and loneliness than we do when their children are struggling with substance use disorder and we need to change that,” Miller said. “Their voices are behind everything that we do.”





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