A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Bevin, Justice Cabinet and Operation UNITE unveil new drug treatment helpline; starts Dec. 1

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The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Operation UNITE are launching a new substance abuse call center that will connect people across the state with drug treatment, Gov. Matt Bevin announced. 

Starting Dec. 1, Kentuckians struggling with a substance use disorder, either themselves or within their families, can call 1-833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) toll-free to speak with a specialist about treatment options and available resources. The specialist will conduct a brief screening assessment in order to connect callers with the most relevant treatment services as quickly as possible. 

“This epidemic is gripping people in every corner of our state and every part of our society,” said Gov. Bevin. “If people don’t know about the ability to get help, then help is not going to be given to people. This phone number will connect callers to a live person who understands this exact issue and will link them to community resources that can help.”

Operation UNITE already fields about 1,000 inquiries each month from desperate residents seeking help with a substance use disorder.

The new KY Help Call Center will provide referrals across the state to both public and private treatment providers.
 
Options will include everything from medication-assisted treatment to faith-based care, and the live specialist will help callers work through all the variables, such as location and cost. 

“There are so many people across the commonwealth who have nowhere to turn when confronted with their own addiction or that of a loved one,” said Nancy Hale, President/CEO of Operation UNITE. “They are desperate for answers. They are desperate for help. This call center will guide people toward recovery. It will give them hope.”

The partnership with Operation UNITE is the latest initiative in the state’s “Don’t Let Them Die” campaign. Gov. Bevin unveiled that campaign earlier this year, encouraging all Kentuckians to take proactive steps to combat the lethal opioid crisis, which claimed more than 1,400 lives in 2016.

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley said those in the grip of addiction often have brief moments of clarity when they are most receptive to help.
 
“We must seize on those rare opportunities to save lives,” Secretary Tilley said. “This call center brings us closer to on-demand treatment than ever before, and it allows callers to locate the resources that work best for them. The bottom line is that recovery happens, and I’m grateful that our state is leading the charge against this national pandemic.”

UNITE is staffing the KY Help Call Center with specialists in Prestonsburg, and the Kentucky Justice Cabinet is funding it through anti-drug appropriations in the current budget — approximately $500,000 per year for the next two years.
 
Callers can speak to a specialist from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday. During non-business hours, callers may leave a message and the call center staff will get back in touch with them.

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