As Rhode Island struggles with the highest rate of substance abuse-related deaths in New England, those caught in the cycle of addiction, as well as their family and friends, have a new resource to access the help they need.
United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) and the CVS Health Foundation have announced a new partnership through 2-1-1 focused on addressing the opioid use epidemic that has become a public health crisis in the Ocean State. Through the free and confidential 2-1-1 help line that’s available 24/7, 365 days a year, the effort aims to raise awareness and bring greater accessibility to treatment resources to Rhode Islanders.
“Every day, people from every corner of the state call 2-1-1 for help. Some are seeking help for elderly parents or childcare, others are looking for housing or food. By expanding our capabilities with generous support from the CVS Health Foundation, we’re able to assist a growing addiction crisis that aligns with the work we are already doing through the 2-1-1 call center,” said Anthony Maione, president and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “2-1-1 is here to help the community, and we are grateful for this much-needed grant to help reach more people across the state.”
Utilizing a multi-pronged approach, the partnership incorporates Anchor Recovery, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment organization. With Anchor, 2-1-1 will have access to a dedicated phone line so that 2-1-1 call specialists may provide a warm transfer directly to a peer counselor, who can provide immediate assistance. The partnership also integrates the availability of an addiction and substance use subject matter expert, and specialized training for 2-1-1 staff on addiction issues and available services.
UWRI and the CVS Health Foundation have added a list of addiction resources to the 2-1-1 website (www.211ri.org), where individuals who may be apprehensive to call 2-1-1 by phone can review the resources or chat online with trained specialists.
“We are committed to ensuring that the communities we serve have access to the resources they need to help them on their path to better health,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President, CVS Health Foundation. “Through this partnership with the United Way, we hope to make it easier for patients, family members and caregivers affected by the opioid epidemic to find resources across our home state of Rhode Island.”
Additionally, the partnership will provide direct outreach to communities in the state most affected by substance abuse using the 2-1-1 Outreach RV. Through confidential screenings aboard the 38-foot Outreach RV, 2-1-1 will provide direct referrals to local substance abuse agencies, as well as immediate drug and alcohol counseling available from on-site partners, and HIV rapid testing.
To help raise awareness of the partnership and the role of 2-1-1 in combating addiction issues, UWRI and CVS Health will employ a marketing campaign, including digital, radio and transit advertisements.
CVS Health is committed to addressing and preventing the nation’s opioid epidemic. In March, the company announced it is adding 14 medication disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations across the state to make it easier to dispose of unused medications. This work builds on ongoing company initiatives, including the Pharmacists Teach program, which brings CVS Pharmacists to local schools to talk to teens and parents about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. More than 300,000 teens nationally including more than 3,600 in Rhode Island have already participated in the program. CVS Health has also worked to expand access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone in 46 states, including Rhode Island.