Toll-free number introduced in hopes of reducing opioid addiction

This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Prescription painkillers should not be a first-choice for treating common ailments like back pain and arthritis, according to new federal guidelines designed to reshape how doctors prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced a new, toll-free number for residents seeking treatment and services for opioid addiction.

According to the DMHAS press release, Connecticut callers who dial 1-800-563-4086 will be directed to a walk-in assessment center in their area. Trained staff will then follow up with the caller to make sure they were able to receive necessary services.

“We need to do everything possible to fight addiction – this is no doubt an alarming nationwide trend,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “This number is a commonsense step that we hope will support those who need it.”

Dr. Surita Rao, the Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the UConn School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, said she believes the 800 number is a positive step that will be a big help for people seeking treatment. 

“There’s such an opioid epidemic going on right now in the U.S. and when people are ready to get treatment, they don’t always know how to access it,” Dr. Rao said.

She explained that many people are not aware of available healthcare resources, and uninsured people may not know that quality treatment is accessible to them. In addition, after making the first step in seeking help for an addiction, it is often difficult for people to find the motivation to follow through. 

“Ultimately, addiction is a brain disease; people don’t choose to become addicted. It’s then their choice to be sober, but it’s not an easy choice,” Dr. Rao said.

According to DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, she is confident that the 800 number is the first step on the road to recovery that can provide “support and hope” needed to beat addition. 

Allison Lavigne, an eighth-semester psychology and HDFS double major, said she is conflicted about whether or not the 800 number will be helpful.

“It might be a good way in for people who are truly ready to begin treatment for an opioid addiction, but it does not guarantee that people are actually going to the walk-in centers for the treatment,” Lavigne said. “I don't see this as a long term solution, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Residents seeking treatment and services for opioid abuse can go to any of the state’s walk-in assessment centers to be evaluated, according to the press release.  Assessment centers can then decide which course of treatment and services is best for each circumstance.


Megan Krementowski is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.