State health officials are expanding efforts to tackle the opioid overdose epidemic. They’ve launched a web site – preventoverdoseri.org - to track overdose, addiction, and treatment statistics. And the state is re-launching a $100,000 public awareness campaign about getting help for addiction.
Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott says the campaign will address a major challenge.
“That challenge is stigma. We have to overcome that. Addiction is a disease and recovery is possible," says Alexander-Scott. "That’s what we’re going to be telling the state of Rhode Island on television, on the radio, on RIPTA buses, online, in English, and in Spanish, from now until 2017.”
The state has also launched a new phone line – 942–STOP – to connect residents with addiction treatment resources. The hotline is available seven days a week.
Previously there was no single phone number for people seeking treatment or immediate access to a counselor. Operators at the phone line will have real-time information about the availability of treatment, from inpatient to outpatient options.
On preventoverdoseri.org, visitors will find maps charting the number and location of overdose deaths, locations and numbers of people seeking addiction treatment, and information about where to find treatment. There's also information about how to get trained in the use of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug that's saved thousands of lives.
Organizers say researchers should be able to use the web site's data to find trends and trouble spots.