There’s a 24/7 support line for addicts, but many don’t know about it

Posted at 12:51 PM, Jan 15, 2019

Barbara Allen, an advocate for addiction recovery, knows the suffering that comes with substance abuse all too well.

“About 15 years ago, my son Jim--he was 35--died from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, and he has struggled with the disease off and on for about 20 plus years,” Allen says.

Allen also lost her brother, who she says suffered from addiction.

“When he was 36, someone he knew shot him to death,” Allen recalls. “She was tweaking out on crystal meth.”

It didn’t end there. Allen lost two other family members to addiction.

“Essentially, I've buried four people due to this disease,” she says.

Before their deaths, Allen tried to help find her loved ones many types of treatment, but one of the biggest issues she faced was how to find them.

“How do you find it? How do you find the services? Especially for someone who is in the midst of their addiction,” Allen says. “What departments? What divisions? What agencies within the county or the state?”

Today, Allen says locating that information is still a challenge.

According to the Centers for Behavioral Health, only 10 percent of individuals who need treatment for addiction receive it.

But there is one resource out there that many people may not know about.

Much like the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has a 24/7 hotline that connects those suffering with addiction to local services and care providers.

It's the only free and federally managed helpline out there.

Allen says those contacts close to home are the best resources when you or a loved ones are seeking help and SAMHSA is a good place to start.

“Don't pick a treatment program based on something they read on the internet,” she says. “Use a local resource, whether it's the health department or local addiction specialist.”

The number to SAMHSA is 1-800-662-HELP.